April is National Poetry Month!

by Ruby on April 2, 2010

All jokes aside, April is, in fact, National Poetry Month. We have lovely displays up in the store, but for those of you that can’t make it in, or simply don’t want to leave your computers lonely, I’ll put some poetry up here, too. Some will be my favorite poems, some will be offered up by our staff, some may even be written by our staff (no promises, but it is possible!) Please keep in mind that I know little to nothing about poetry, and if you have a poem that you feel needs to be included, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail! I’d love to hear from you.

To get us started, here is a short poem I read several years ago. What makes it special, you ask? Well, read it first, then I will explain:

my sweet old etcetera by e e cummings

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

my sister

Isabel created hundreds
hundreds)of socks not to
mention fleaproof earwarmers
etcetera wristers etcetera, my
mother hoped that

i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et

cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

I read it the first time, and I got the surface story of a soldier, and what his family did during the war. When I read it again, I spent more time pondering the use of the word “etcetera”, and I got a much deeper picture of the story, substituting different words for “etcetera”. Then, when I looked at the spacing and the capitalization, that added a whole different dimension to the poem. Every time I read it, I see something new, like in a complicated painting or movie. That is my favorite kind of art: the kind that has the eternal capacity to surprise.

If you like this poem, you can find it in the collection Selected Poems by e e cummings. Other collections of his work include 100 Selected Poems, and (for the more adult among you) Erotic Poems.