National Library Month is one of those things that typically rivals, unsuccessfully, National Library Week, in public libraries, an event which libraries justifiably celebrate. In addition, with poetry collections that languish on all libraries’ shelves—academic and public alike—competing with the flash and urgency of technology, it’s not surprising.
This year, however, I’m hoping to hoist poetry in our library back on the pedestal where it deserves to be.
We will have a number of events in April to celebrate National Library Month, including a contest in which patrons who check out collections of poetry will have the opportunity to win one of six coffee mugs, featuring the poems of beloved poets.
We will also, throughout the month, have a ‘Spine Poetry’ table, on which patrons may take random library books and create poems with the titles of the books. The results of this, as I have learned in another great public library, are often inspiring and moving, and sometimes quite funny!
Finally, we will hold the first meeting of a Poetry Group on April 24 at 7:00 PM, ironically entitled “For Poetry Makes Nothing Happen,”—a line from W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W.B. Yeats.” This program for adults, which we will offer every month, allows members of the community to read their own poetry, poems by others which hold special meaning, and discuss what poetry means to them in their own lives.
The poet Philip Larkin once wrote in a poem about a great jazz musician—“On me your voice falls as they say love should,/like an enormous yes.” This line could easily apply to poetry.
Finally, poetry still has importance. It does make something happen. It can help us understand love and loss, youth and age, and the beauty of this rock on which we all live.
Poetry, like the public library, will always be here for you.
Information and Instruction Librarian
Asked for a Happy Memory of Her Father,
She Recalls Wrigley Field
His drinking was different in sunshine,
as if it couldn’t be bad. Sudden, manic,
he swung into a laugh, bought me
two ice creams, said One for each hand.
Half the hot inning I licked Good Humor
running down wrists. My bird-mother
earlier, packing my pockets with sun-block,
has hopped her warning: Be careful.
So, pinned between his knees, I held
his Old Style in both hands
while he streaked the lotion on my cheeks
and slurred My little Indian princess.
Home run: the hairy necks of men in front
jumped up, thighs torn from gummy green bleachers
to join the violent scramble. Father
held me close and said Be careful,
be careful. But why should be full of care
with his thick arm circling my should,
with a high smiling sun, like a home run,
in the upper right-hand corner of the sky?
Beth Ann Fennelly