Some years, I have devoted my National Poetry Month energies to attending readings, getting out in the world to listen to writers; some years, I’ve tried hard to submit at least 30 poems to magazines and journals; some years, I have read two poetry books a week for the month of April. This year, I wrote a poem draft a day. OK, now what?
When you love poetry, you do all of these things anyway. Having a month to celebrate the art merely acts as a public awareness campaign, though it has reminded me, year after year, to aim for a bit more discipline in my creative life.
I have also been reading, of course, bookish person that I am; this past month, a real standout–and a difficult book in a few ways–was An Orchestra of Minorities by . The novel offers a way in to the cosmology of the Igbo people (Nigerian, mostly) while wrenchingly capturing the anxieties of modern life and the timeless agonies of lovers separated by class, race, status, religion (whatever gets in the way of lovers). Obioma successfully interchanges voices, languages, creoles, narrating from the point of view of a guiding spirit. Spoiler alert, the book ends with tragedy, and there are tragedies large and small throughout. The tension of human anxiety works really well, and all of our fears.
The guiding spirit, who has accompanied centuries of human hosts through their lives, has a refrain: “I have seen it many times.” I thought of Vonnegut’s “So it goes.”
Trying to imagine my own refrain…it might be something on the lines of: Life’s difficult, so we have art and poetry and love and one another to get us through.