I will readily admit that I do not spend warm afternoons reading poetry on a blanket in a park. In fact, for the most part, poetry does not come to my mind on a regular basis.
However, during this Great Pause we are experiencing, different things have come to the forefront of my mind and poetry took its place when I heard on one of my many podcasts that April is National Poetry Month. And with some random readings here and there I began to think the universe was sending me signs to make poetry part of my life, even if only in a small way.
I learned that we have a National Youth Poet Laureate from a wonderful e-newsletter, Lily Lines. This honor and recognition began only recently in 2017 and Amanda Gorman was the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and Kara Jackson is the current Laureate. You can read an interview with both of them here. Recently, Amanda Gorman appeared on CBS This Morning offering some hope to us all.
I was so impressed with these young people and the internet rabbit hole showed me that we have many regional youth laureates all over the country, including Denver. Ayla Sullivan, the current Denver youth laureate was featured on Colorado Public Radio last year in remembering Columbine. If you want to know more about this amazing young person, this is a great feature from 303 Magazine.
I also loved learning about the newest Colorado Poet Laureate, Bobby LeFebre, the first Latino, person of color, and youngest to receive this honor. LeFebre wrote the play Northside and it’s production at Su Teatro ran 30 consecutive sold-out shows.
Our very own Arts District featured Bobby LeFebre six years ago as well. Watch this segment to see his wonderful spoken word performance and to learn more about him.
Lastly, I encourage you to start your day with five minutes of poetry.
I have been listening to The Slowdown every morning before I even get out of bed. The host, Tracy K. Smith, has one of the voices that sounds like it belongs in a guided meditation. There is something quite soothing and meditative to hear poetry being read to you and I quite prefer it over reading a poem. Check out this lovely gem each weekday morning. I hope it helps to calm you as it has calmed me.
You can also have a poem-a-day emailed to you, if you want another way to put poetry in your life, at The Poetry Foundation.
And if you are in the mood to read a poem, this is one of my favorite poems by Pablo Neruda, The Dead Woman.
Jennifer Johnson is a Leadership Giving Officer at Rocky Mountain Public Media. Read and view more Colorado Voices stories from COVID-19 at rmpbs.org/colorado-voices.