I’m so grateful for the fact that there’s an entire month dedicated to the celebration of poetry. As a poet, I sometimes worry that poetry is marginalized by current, maintstream culture. If you look up the New York Times bestseller lists online, none of the categories listed are for poetry. They have categories for children’s picture books and manga, but not poetry. Certainly, there are entire organizations and events devoted to celebrating poetry at any time of the year. Weekly open mic nights dapple the nation. The National Poetry Slam gathers together poets from around the world every summer. Magazines publish pages upon pages of poems every month. It’s not like poetry is only an active force in the world during the month of April. Still, I worry that this force is not as noted as it should be on a regular basis. I worry that people care more about 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James than they do about Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey. Because of all of this, I find it validating to have a nationally-sanctioned poetry month.
During April, many poets participate in something called a 30/30. This involves writing a poem a day for every day of the month. I’ve done a few 30/30s, in April or otherwise, and have found them to be fruitful pursuits. I haven’t done one in quite awhile, mostly because I’ve been feeling alot of pressure from other areas of life. I figured the last thing I needed was the added stress of having to write a complete poem every single day. This year, I’ve decided to do it. Why? Certainly not because I’m under less pressure. Currently, I’m working as an adjunct college professor. It’s a job that I love, but my adjunct status means that I have to teach twice as many courses to make half as much money as my fulltime counterparts. As a doctoral student, I’m also studying for a candidacy exam that covers 120 authors. I’ll be taking that beauty in May. I’m doing the 30/30 because I have to prioritize my writing in the same way that I prioritize anything else matters to me. That’s not something that the world will do for me. My identity as a writer as just as important to me as my identity as a teacher and a scholar, so I have to treat it accordingly. I think that sometimes non-artists perceive art as a frivolous or trivial vocation. It’s not. I respect my artist self, and I respect yours, too.