Listen Up, Poem Fairy!
Last year, in April, someone gave me a poem. It was left on my desk, front and centre, where I'd be sure to see it. No one confessed. It could have been anyone in the building -- North York Central Library has six floors, so my suspect list is long. Will the poem fairy (as I've been calling my anonymous benefactor) strike again this April, which is National Poetry Month? If they read this, will they feel pressured into giving me another poem? Will they feel trapped in an annual poetry giving loop that must continue until one or the other of us dies? Dear poem fairy, don't feel obligated to give me a poem this April. Don't worry, I won't be like Linus, shivering in the pumpkin patch all night, waiting for the Great Pumpkin who never comes.
What if the poem fairy isn't one of my co-workers? What if it's a supernatural being, like the Great Pumpkin, and what if it has the power to grant poetry wishes during National Poetry Month? Oh Great Poem Fairy, grant my wish! GIVE ME POETRY INSTEAD OF MUSIC WHEN I'M ON HOLD! I wish it every time I'm forced to endure a sharp harpoon of ear stabbing music while waiting with the phone to my ear.
Imagine, instead, a voice speaking softly into your ear: I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. Wouldn't you hug the phone close? Wouldn't you hang on every word? If the poem fairy doesn't grant my wish, then I look to you business owners, civil servants, anyone in charge of a phone line -- hear this cry from my soul! Replace hold music with poetry, not just in April, but ALWAYS. It could work something like this:
Press 1 for Beat poetry
Press 2 for Haiku
Press 3 for Free verse
Press 4 for Sonnets
Press 5 for Nonsense verse
Press 6 for Limericks
Press 7 for Canadian poetry
Press 8 for Narrative poetry
Press 9 for Surprise me
You could change it up all kinds of ways. During tax season, Revenue Canada could offer epic poetry (because you could be on hold for a long time). On Valentine's Day you could fire up the love poetry. Entrepreneurs, I offer you this poetry-while-you-wait business idea, free. Take it to the Dragon's Den! Just make the tiny terrible music stop!
If you want to begin exploring poetry, but aren't sure where to start, borrow a poetry anthology and sample a range of poets, genres and periods.
|Global poetry anthology
||Please excuse this poem
||365 poems for every
|The Oxford book of
|Poems that make grown
|Poems that make
grown women cry
|The Penguin anthology
of 20th century
|The best Canadian
The Griffin Poetry Prize, founded in 2000 by Canadian philanthropist Scott Griffin, is one of the most generous poetry prizes in the world -- the winners receive $65,000. There is an international prize, awarded to a living poet from any country in the world, and a Canadian prize, for a poet living in Canada. Here are the last eight years of Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize winners:
|2015 Blue Sonoma||2014 Red doc>||2013 What's the score?||2012 Methodist hatchet|
|2011 Ossuaries||2010 Pigeon : poems||2009 The sentinel : poems||2008 The holy forest|
Winners for 2016 will be announced on June 2. To sample the work of the 2016 contenders, reserve the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology, which the library has on order.
Did you know you can get poetry in eBook format from the Toronto Public Library website? Go to OverDrive and use the Advanced Search function to narrow your search to poetry. Here's a small sample of what's available:
|Handwriting||The Essential Rumi
||The Essential Ginsberg
||Sylvia Plath Collected Poems
||100 selected poems
||Love poems||The waste land
April 21 is poem in your pocket day. The League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets invite you to celebrate poetry on April 21 by carrying a poem with you throughout the day, and sharing it with others. Toronto Public Library is getting in on the fun! We've created a list of poetry eBooks you can borrow to put on your mobile device. Don't forget to share! Recite a poem to your co-workers during your coffee break, or, if you dare, to the sleepy eyed commuters riding the rocket.
Here's a short poem I'd like to share with everyone. I found it very moving. Turn up the volume on your device -- Ayo Akinfenwa, who recites the poem, speaks very softly at first. She's reciting at the Poetry In Voice contest, a recitation contest for Canadian high school students. (If I ever wondered whether poetry had kicked the bucket, this event showed me it's alive and kicking.)
Fear of snakes can be found in Canadian poet Lorna Crozier's Angels of flesh, Angels of silence: poems.