Here's the official poster for National Poetry Month, an event created in 1996 and hosted by Poets.org.
It features a snippet from the
poem "Our Valley" by Philip Levine: ". . . wait on the wind. Catch a
scent of salt, call it our life."
I remember singing "Down in the Valley, the Valley so low"
on long Sunday rides in the car with my family, my Dad leading with his
bass tones. I loved the spirituals best, which Dad sang with
gusto, I think partly because the lyrics resonated with who he was as a
Jewish man called Joseph. "Down in the Valley" was often followed by "Go Down Moses" and "Way Down upon the Swanee River" and "Old Black Joe." I
think he was really happy during those Sunday afternoons with his
family. It is also the most relaxed vacation-like time I remember from childhood
At first I sang loud and joyfully during those years, but as I reached the uncertain years of puberty my voice must have pitched up, because Dad commented on a screech
effect. I sang low or not at all from then on. In school I moved
from chorus to band where I played trombone, a wonderful brassy low-tone
instrument. During those same years I wrote a short story that was published in the literary magazine and I won a contest for writing a
biographical sketch of Frederick Church, one of the Hudson River School
My mother was convinced that I would become a writer,
but--at age 60--I haven't become one yet! I write all the time, of course: lists, emails, journal entries, greeting cards, and grant proposals. I give talks and lead discussions whenever I am asked. I have even earned my PhD and printed labored articles here and there. But most of my writing is in the moment, wild and rough. And once written it is put away as if a secret. Unless I read it to someone. This anti-social behavior is still a mystery to me. I am moving past it, maybe, with this blog. Here and on facebook my tiny comfort zone with "The Public" is changing.