I t’s finally April, and you know what that means! Well, yes, it does mean rain.

And also, apparently, Jazz Appreciation Month, National Humor Month and Financial Literacy Month. Who knew?

But the aspect I’m most excited for is National Poetry Month.

What? Poetry’s cool. Poetry’s amazing .

Yeah, OK, I think all writing is amazing or I wouldn’t be doing this every week, but poetry’s got a special place in my heart.

I mean, poetry isn’t all Sarah Williams and Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Did you know that the oldest piece of authored writing we still have today is a hymn written by an Egyptian priestess thousands of years ago? Technically a poem, like every other song ever written. Think of all the song lyrics you know – you could probably recite 10 poems off the top of your head right now!

Sure, “Call Me Maybe” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” aren’t thousands of years old and thousands of words long like “Beowulf ” or the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” but they don’t need to be. Poetry is almost infinite in its variety and scope, encompassing Nicki Minaj and Lewis’ “Jabberwocky” under the same genre right alongside Shakespeare’s sonnets and Basho’s Haiku.

Tell me that isn’t cool.

That variety is part of why I’m so drawn to it. You can work within the strict structure or confines of a sonnet or haiku, muck around with rhyme schemes and fill up notebooks trying to think of all the words that sound like “blue” (791 the last time I checked) or, my favorite, distill language down to its clearest-cut form and play with free verse.

Honestly, I think the best part of poetry is exactly what it does for language. It has a way of pulling out the meaning of things we don’t even think to look at sometimes, and making the vague and indefinable distinct and recognizable.

There’s a reason people quote things from centuries gone by. It would take me probably two pages to elicit the same emotion as Sarah Williams does with 13 words and even then it wouldn’t have nearly the same power as “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

What poetry does is say things in a way that makes you remember them. Or just says things that have never been said, or says things that haven’t been said enough, or says things that have been said too many times before but never quite in this way. I think the point I’m trying to make here is that poetry says stuff.

So this National Poetry Month, I invite you to try saying stuff too. Say stuff about nature or love or any combination of the two. Say stuff like how the rain is driving you crazy, or about how your coffee tasted like the idea of coffee, or how the bird singing in the tree is a metaphor for something. Birds usually are.

Happy National Poetry Month. Go forth and say stuff.

— Nina Collay is a junior at Thornton Academy who can frequently be found listening to music, reading, wrestling with a heavy cello case, or poking at the keyboard of an uncooperative laptop.


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