Thursday, April 3, 2014

APRIL IS THE MONTH FOR POETS AND POETRY

Although I read and write poetry every day, every month in the year, I'm always excited to see that the Academy of American Poets commemorates April as National Poetry Month. The Academy has been sponsoring this observance since 1996 and encourages schools, libraries, publishers, and poets to celebrate poetry during April through readings, workshops, and festivals. This year, members of this supportive organization have suggested that poetry lovers carry poems in their pockets and read them during casual encounters with friends, co-workers, and other people they meet on the street on April 24. 

I own approximately 400 books of poetry and house most of them in my bedroom here at Sewanee, Tennessee, and when I'm in Louisiana, I suffer pangs of withdrawal from the lack of availability of my books. However, right now, just as the "blooming yellows" appear—daffodils and forsythia, our first signs of spring—I'm in my Tennessee poetry library again and am happy to be in the company of bards ranging from Shakespeare to Charles Simic.

I teethed on Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verse, thanks to my mother, memorized Henry W. Longfellow's poems in the third grade, and had an epiphany about becoming a poet when I was eleven. The epiphany occurred as I was sitting at one of those old fold-up seat desks reading "Hiawatha," and as I read the poem, I experienced the same sensation that Emily Dickinson said she felt when she read a good poem—as if the top of her head had blown off. I also received the revelation that I could write a poem. We had just moved into a new stucco bungalow in Franklinton, Louisiana, and I wrote the poem about this new home, the sight of which gave me an overwhelming feeling of security after traveling in the West the preceding summer, "gypsying," as my wanderlust father described my childhood odyssey to California.  

I only remember that two of the lines of the poem I wrote described the home as being "away from the town's noisy din/safe from the roar of the cotton gin," unimpressive lines to mark the advent of the life of a poet, but enough expression to make me think that I could write poetry. And, by the way, this early effort is one of the few rhyming poems I've penned during my lifetime.

I didn't become serious about writing poetry until I was 29, and my first published poem appeared in The American Weave in 1967 when I was 32. I was paid from the Hart Crane Memorial Fund and felt as though I had arrived in the world of poetry. Five years later, I received an award for inspirational poetry during the Deep South Writer's Conference but, again, time passed and I read more poetry than I wrote. During the early 1970's, I became serious about writing poetry while I sojourned in the desert of southern Iran and have remained dedicated to the craft and to publishing my work for almost forty years.

A friend once told me that no one is successful at any endeavor until they put in their 10,000 hours of practice, and I think that measure is probably a good marker for success in writing poetry that engages people. A better measure is that of writing a poem a day, and I feel that the ritual of writing is a spiritual act, as well as an act requiring discipline and study.

My poems will probably never be recited by third graders or sit on the shelves of academicians in the university realms, but the writing of them is still as exciting as the day I wrote that first poem when I was eleven and said to myself: "I can do that! For me, poetry provides what Jacque Maritain declared:  "You cannot attain eternal life through poetry but it is as essential as bread to the human race as it fits us for the life of the spirit."

PUBLISHED POETRY BOOKS OF DIANE MARQUART MOORE:  In A Convent Garden and Other Poems; Mystical Forest; Everything Is Blue; Post Cards From Diddy Wah Diddy; Alchemy; Old Ridges; Rising Water; The Holy Present and Farda; Grandma's Good War; Afternoons in Oaxaca; The Book of Uncommon Poetry; Counterpoint; Your Chin Doesn't Want to Marry; Soaring; More Crows; Just Passing Through; The Beast Beelzebufo (children's poetry); and A Moment Seized. 


Poems have appeared in The Daily Iberian, Yaddasht Haftegy, American Weave, Trace, Pinyon Review, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Southwestern Review, and other journals.
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