What Poetry Can Be

April will not be as it was.

It has become a custom of mine to purchase a new book of poetry in the days leading up to the month. While not unusual for me to pick, or be gifted with, volumes of poetry throughout the year, come springtime I always select another book to purposefully celebrate words that express more than words often can.

April is poetry month.

While I enjoy poetry throughout the year — rarely will you find me without something poetic tucked in my bag — April is the month where it gets my full attention. Like the season, poetry is all about hope.

Poetry enlivens the mind, fires up your neurons, and touches memory, nostalgia and emotion. Poetry can alter your life and, by sampling a small dose each day, your outlook, compassion and tolerance are fortified and improved.

Just one poem a day provides time away from the attention-seeking mobile device, shocking news of the day, or dreary inter-office memo. Poetry allows a little latitude with your attitude.

But this year is different, for me and everybody else. We, right now, are dealing with something that even a month ago we had no idea it would be like this. Scared, concerned and anxious about the coronavirus, we are now living in isolation and physically distancing ourselves from friends and strangers. We, right now, need to be touched. We need to be soothed. Poetry can do that.

This year, the bookstores, as non-essential businesses, had been shut down by the time I would normally make the trip to increase my ever-expanding poetry collection. I have nothing new to celebrate.

Instead I’m going to flip through the poetry that already fills my bookshelves. I’m going to reacquaint myself with a few of the masters, read the words of close and talented friends, and reread some of the fresh voices I have encountered in past years. I know I will dwell on some favorites, but I’m also open to allowing words I’ve read before to resonate with me differently. I am open-minded in all the right places.

I think, in the turmoil we all face in this pandemic period, it’s a great time to escape into the craft. Poetry provides comfort.

April is poetry month.

It’s also a month where I normally write nothing but poetry. It allows me to scratch the surface a little deeper, unfold certain crevices of my mind, and deal with stray thoughts looking for a home. I apply pressure to my passion, am empowered in ways I cannot understand, and don’t bother trying to figure it out. I just do it.

This year, however, I’m not going to do that.

Yes, I will still write poetry, but I will work without expectation, deadlines, self-imposed pressure and definitely without rushing. I will not commit to posting a new poem every day on this page as I have done each of the past five years. This month, this year, I need time with my poetry; I have some work that needs my attention.

Word count, line count, I intend to make it count, but you won’t be reading it this month. I have ideas I need to establish and some hesitations I need to get past. I am confused. I need a bit of change.

This is a time to return to what I already have. Over the coming month I’m going to fill this space with poetry I’ve written over the past five years. Maybe this is an attempt to refocus and see where I am, or where I have been. Or, perhaps, I need to see how I’ve changed; or if I have at all.

Now, depending on my mood, something new may appear here or there (I know myself a little too well), but for the most part, over the next 30 days, I’m going to republish poems of my past.

Some may be favourites; others will just fit my mood, align with my spirit, or reflect the climate of the word around us. I don’t know yet; I haven’t even selected what poems I will use, not even for tomorrow. I want to surprise myself, or rediscover my words. I need poetry month to show me what it can be.

Maybe, at a time when everything seems to be changing, I need to become more familiar with myself. I think poetry can do that.

I think there has never been a more important time to read poetry.

 

April is Poetry Month
Poetry all month, all the time, at mythosandmarginalia.com
Come back and have a look

Soon

There is a magnificent building on a corner in downtown Toronto. It used to be a reputable, longtime Italian restaurant (I’m not sure when it closed) but there are now signs up in the tall windows (I’m not sure when they went up).

Opening soon. Yummy healthy plant based.

You can read the optimism in the signs.

You can only imagine the confidence of the entrepreneurs planning this new unnamed enterprise. It’s in a great spot, right around the corner from another popular restaurant, and so close the both the financial and entertainment districts.

This space has the top three requirements of good real estate: location, location, location.

Plant-based food has been trending for a couple of years. People are eating healthy, and thinking healthy. There’s a popular gym right across the street.

The restaurant business is built on optimism. There is decor to plan, equipment to purchase, menus to figure out, prices to set, suppliers to arrange and staff to hire, and everything is planned around the hopes that people will show up on opening day and beyond..

Opening soon.

It can take months to set up such an enterprise, especially one that will be operating out of such a large, fine space. But, who knows how soon soon will be?

Restaurants in this province have been required to close because of the coronavirus; except to take out and delivery. It hasn’t even been two weeks.

It wasn’t in anybody’s plans. Heck, 10 days ago I was out enjoying a Saturday night dinner at another popular downtown Toronto restaurant. The place was full. At that time the stock markets were beginning to tip, and a coronavirus death was not even in this country, or on this continent.

Since then some restaurants have remained open for take-out. Others have simply shut down for a while. We are now talking pandemic, and social distancing and self-isolation, and staying home.

Two days ago the mayor of this city declared a state of emergency. Later that day the premier of the province ordered that all non-essential businesses close for a period of two weeks, at least.

That’s not good for the restaurant industry. That’s not good for any business.

The sign in the window of a nearby family-owned grill reads: This too shall pass.

That’s the optimism of the restaurant business. People need to eat. People will soon be out and about after the danger of COVID-19 has passed.

How soon is soon?

Soon is a subjective word. It could mean next week, or next month, and hopefully not much longer than that. Depending on which politician you are listening to, it could be either weeks or months; or maybe, not at all.

The economy is tanking. Everywhere. Recession? Depression? Market correction?

The restaurant business has traditionally been about survival of the fittest. Some will not survive another couple of weeks without cash flow. Some restaurants will not reopen.

Some may not open at all.

I Simply Read

I spent much of my spare time yesterday day reading
I didn’t listen to the radio, or even turn on the stereo. I just read.
I finished off one book and made a significant dent in the next. I hadn’t read like that in quite a while.
It’s not that I didn’t have other things I could have been doing. I had some writing I needed to do, both in my journal and for this space; there’s a lot going on right now. My mind has been cluttered with news and events of the past week(s). There is a great deal to think about, but I simply read.
I needed an escape.
It’s amazing how a good book can, literally, take you away to another dimension. It is comforting to know that a humble book can soothe your troubled mind and help curb fears and anxiety.
There’s a lot to be troubled by right now.
I read a lot yesterday. I needed to. I needed to get my mind off of what was going on and let it travel anywhere but here.
A book allows you to focus on something else. A book can do that. It did yesterday.
I hope it will again today.