Messages from the World

Words on Wednesday: Poetry

April is National Poetry Month.  

As a reader and lover of poetry, I always celebrate this month -- and I take it as a personal challenge:  To share poetry I love; to remind people that poetry is wonderful; and to encourage others to just . . . give it a try!  Because if you hated it in school . . . well . . . I'm betting it was the way it was taught. 

In third grade, my teacher's name was Mrs. Clinton.  Besides being an excellent teacher, she was also an artist -- and a lover of poetry.  When she taught poetry, it was from the heart!  And, best of all, she taught us that poetry could be fun.  She shared silly poems with us every day -- and we loved them!  By beginning with the silly, she took the dust-and-fuss off the rest of "Poetry," so when she threw the more serious stuff at us later, we were receptive and unintimidated.  I'm going to bet that many of my classmates also grew up with, at the very least, a fondness for poetry.

Anyway, I think of Mrs. Clinton whenever I pull this book off my shelf.

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Here's a poem from the book.  (I think Mrs. Clinton would have approved.)  (But not for third graders.)

"What do women want?"

I want a red dress.
I want it fliimsy and cheap.
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath.  I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears abut me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want.  When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio


On Wednesday throughout April, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.