Why Poetry Matters

Backyard by Pascal Campion
Most of you know that April is Poetry Month. I don’t know why April was selected but that doesn’t matter because the beauty, intimacy, and power of poetry is brought to the forefront during the next 29 days. Several bloggers have wonderful poems and events going on this month. Two you may want to follow this month, or continually, are Andrea’s Poet Tree. She has 30 (and more) ways to celebrate Poetry Month. And at Book of Kells, Kelli has a huge giveaway where you can win books of poetry. 
There are poems that resonate with me that were written hundreds of years ago and others, like this morning, written on a Celestial Seasonings Tea box:

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”George Bernard Shaw

Some of the poems that resonant with me are about family/familia. This month I’ll share a few about grandparents, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children and those we love like family. 
A poem I recently came across made me think of my own heritage and gave me an understanding and appreciation for the history all of our parents bring to our family. 
Movements By Marion Gomez

I hear my father’s Spanish
as the Dunkin Donuts’ cashier calls
back my order to the kitchen staff—
her skin the color of the fried cake donuts on display,
her hair and eyes the chocolate glaze.
Having my mother’s complexion
lets me go unrecognized.
How can I prove to this woman
that I am a sister, a Latina?
I could speak Spanish,
but like her English,
it is broken.
And really, what is sisterhood
when ice to me are cold cubes
I put in my coffee on hot days,
not men with guns
pounding on the door…
that is my father’s anxiety.
In the twenty six years before
Reagan granted him amnesty for the crime
of wanting to be in the U.S.,
his prior attempt at citizenship denied,
he held on to his green card
for dear life.
Can I blame him then for marrying a white woman,
not passing on Spanish
in the hopes I would flourish,
speak the language,
be accepted? But I did.
In college I learned about el vendido,
the sellout, an anglo-fied Latino,
saw my father as a traitor,
not realizing I myself have moved towards whiteness
by trying to pass as middle class,
refusing to date the trailer park boys
I grew up with:
they would only keep me
where I didn’t want to be.
My father speaks so rarely of Colombia.
A witness to war, he has seen the unspeakable,
but like a repressed tree, its seedling lodged in the lung,
light calls everything to the surface:
once he told me of the only protest
he attended. He was seventeen
and a friend invited him to a march
in downtown Barranquilla
to support the work of Fidel y Che.
The year was 1958.
My father confessed he went
because he thought it would be cool
to walk down the middle of a street
usually filled with buses and cars.
Suddenly, soldiers jumped down from their convoys
and started firing on the crowd.
His friend, walking beside him,
fell to the ground
and died in that street

Marion Gomez is a poet and native Minnesotan along with her mother, whose heritage hails from Scandinavia. Her father is an immigrant from Colombia and came to the U.S. in 1960. She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN

Now make like the picture above by the luminous artist, Pascal Campion, and take out your favorite book of poetry and enjoy a few minutes of intimate time-just you and words. 
Tell me, what type of poetry resonates with you? Which poem prickles your skin? Makes your heart sigh? 




Categories: Andrea Beltran, Book of Kells, Family, Marion Gomez, Pascal Campion, poetry, Poetry Month, poets

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