Another National Poetry Month is almost gone.
In April, publishers release new poetry books and publications heighten their attention to the genre all but ignored the rest of the year.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review recently devoted an entire issue to "poesy." The New York Times Sunday magazine now publishes a poem each week.
Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda Thursday proclaimed his love of poetry in lavishly praising new critical studies of the art by Guggenheim Foundation President and noted poet/critic Edward Hirsch and Johns Hopkins professor and formalist poet Brad Leithauser.
Both have been longtime leaders of the nation's poetry establishment. Hirsch in several books and a term as the nation's poet laureate has striven to raise poetry's popularity. Leithauser has spearheaded efforts to restore the use of traditional meter and form after years of "free verse" dominance.
Hirsch's "The Heart of American Poetry" is the latest entry in an increasingly prevalent format he pioneered: offering a selection of poems accompanied by brief explanations of each of them.
Leithauser's "Rhyme's Rooms: The Architecture of Poetry" joins a teeming collection of books on poetic technique. The title and subject echo the late John Hollander's small classic "Rhyme's Reasons."
Dirda cites Hirsch's inclusion of outsider works like Robert Johnson's song "Crossroads Blues (Take 2)" along with a variety of poems from across the American canon.
He commends Leithauser for unlocking poetic techniques for the general reader.
While I'm skeptical of the triumphalism of National Poetry Month, I'm marking the occasion with the long-awaited arrival of British writer Lucasta Miller's "Keats a Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph."
Has I yearned to read the book when it was first published in Great Britain, and waited long months for its American appearance. At last, April brought the book's arrival, and I'm happily reading it each night.
After years of receding from mainstream literary culture, poetry returned to prominence after Sept. 11, 2001. Grieving Americans after the attack on the World Trade Center found solace in poems like W.H. Auden's "Sept. 1, 1939." Readers are also turning to poetry after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially to work by Ukrainian writers.
Poetry lives whenever deeper human emotions must receive expression.