On the Second May’s (and a Tiny Bit of June’s) Poems
My friend the poet Michael Macklin died this month. I had read a poem of his to the students one Monday, and over the following weekend, Michael took a group of his students to Bread Loaf, where he passed away in his sleep. To everyone in the Maine poetry community–and beyond–this was a profound shock. I read another of his poems to the kids the following week, and told them about our friendship. Then I broke down and cried. Can poems make you cry? Of course they can. Especially if they are the products of a great soul. I shall miss Michael.
I shall also miss this year’s students. Many of them began the year poetry-resistant; some of them still carried that resistance like a cross at the end of the year. All right, then, what’s the poem today?–with a major sigh. Still, I won some others over. Like the tough girl in seventh period, with all her tattoos: I like it when you read those poems. She liked it, perhaps, because she was one of those people I actively searched out pieces for, and I would tell the class: this one is for her, because she brought up this or that idea in conversation the other day. I won the varsity pitcher in fifth period over when I read baseball poems: People write baseball poems? So. The battle continues.
I’ve ended with Taylor Mali again this year, because it seems an appropriate valediction. For the first time every, I received an ovation for reading a poem in class (!). The boy from first period, wearing the sunglasses and sporting the cut-of shirt sleeves told me that “Siver-Lined Heart” was the best poem he’d ever heard.
May 1, Tuesday: Patrick Kavanagh, “After May” (suggested by the poet Jenny Doughty)
May 2, Wednesday: Andrea Hollander Budy, “What It Is”
May 3, Thursday: Joyce Kilmer, “Trees”
May 4, Friday: Paul Lawrence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask”
May 7, Monday: Naomi Shihab Nye, “Full Day”
May 8, Tuesday: Emily Dickenson, “Hope is the thing with feathers”
May 9, Wednesday: Andrea Hollander Budy, “What I Need It For”
May 10, Thursday: Shara McCallum, “The Art Room”
May 11, Friday: Jeffrey Harrison, “Rilke’s Fear of Dogs”
May 14, Monday: Michael Macklin, “Grace”
May 15, Tuesday: Carl Sandburg, “Grass”
May 16, Wednesday: Philip Larkin, “Days”
May 17, Thursday: Kathleen Flenniken, “Natural History”
May 18, Friday: Jack Lent, “The Poem When It Comes” (a baseball poem!)
May 21, Monday: Robert Frost, “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things”
May 22, Tuesday: Michael Macklin, “Overhanging Branches”
May 23, Wednesday: Cynthia Kramen, “Summer Night Poem 8”
May 24, Thursday: Jane Kenyon, “Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks”
May 25, Friday: Theodore Roethke, “In a Dark Time”
May 29, Tuesday: Robert Creeley, “When I Think”
May 30, Wednesday: Mark Turcotte, “Chippewa Hitchhike”
May 31, Thursday: Ellen Rachlin, “Night Swim”
June 1, Friday: Taylor Mali, “Silver-Lined Heart”
Over and out, until next fall.
- Posted in: Poetry ♦ Reading ♦ Uncategorized
- Tagged: Andrea Hollander Budy, Carl Sandburg, Cynthia Kramen, Emily Dickinson, Jack Lent, Jane Kenyon, Jeffrey Harrison, Joyce Kilmer, Kathleen Flenniken, Mark Turcotte, Michael Macklin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patrick Kavanagh, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Philip Larkin, Robert Creeley, Shara McCallum, Taylor Mali, Theodore Roethke