National Poetry Month: Poetri’s “Money”
Every month since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month, introduced by the Academy of American Poets. That year on April 1st, President Bill Clinton wrote a letter to the academy in honor of the very first National Poetry Month. In this letter Clinton wrote: “Throughout history, America has been blessed by the powerful voices of our poets. Dedicated artists, innovators, and stewards of our language, they tell us not only who we are, but also who we can become. They distill our emotions, clarify our thoughts, and renew our spirits with the vigor of their words and the freshness of their perspective.”
As President Clinton stated, America’s history has had powerful voices from our poets throughout our history into our present. Now there were many great poets before the nation was founded, but I would like to start with Philip Freneau, who was known as the “Poet of the American Revolution” with his poems such as “A Political Litany” in 1775, shortly before the Declaration of Independence and “American Liberty” celebrating America’s freedom.
In the 1700s there was also Phyillis Wheatley, who was the first African-American poet to publish a book, and in 1775 she wrote a poem to George Washington, and he responded by inviting her to meet with him, which they did so in March of the following year.
In the 1800s the popular poets were of course Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. We also had two Presidents from this century were known to write poems; our 6th President, John Quincy Adams and our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
Going into the 1900s, there was Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot, then in the 1950s Alen Ginsberg was the leading poet of the Beat Generation. And going into the new century we had poets such as Saul Williams, who blended poetry with hip-hop.
In 21st century, thanks to technology, we have access to all of the rich poems of our history with just a click of a button, or maybe I should say a tap of a finger, if using a smart phone or tablet. HBO from 2002-2007 ran Def Poetry, every episode having different poets of the day recite one of their poems.
While writing this article I watched many clips of these poets, trying to find just the right one to use. I decided on Poetri’s “Money”, for many reasons. But mainly because I think a lot of people have the pre-notion that poems either have to rhyme every other word, or that they are long and boring. And with the humor that Peotri used to write this and how entertaining he is when he recites it, I think it is the perfect one to show.
Now there are many poets who I did not mention in this brief article. So I will end my article with a few more notable poets and a link to one of their most famous poems:
Maya Angelou: “Alone”
Elizabeth Bishop: ”One Art”
Gwendolyn Brooks: “We Real Cool”
E.E. Cummings: “anyone lived in a pretty how town”
Langston Hughes: “Let America Be America Again”
Jack Kerouac: “One Flower”
Anne Sexton: “The Truth The Dead Know”
Shel Silverstein: “The World Was Crazy”
Edgar Allan Poe: “The Raven”
James Whitcomb Riley: “Little Orphan Annie”
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