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2019 Poetry Selections

Beginning in 2018, Madison Public Library celebrated National Poetry Month by posting a poem a day throughout the entire month of April. In 2019, Madison Public Library staff were asked to submit their favorites to be posted.


Cover of Questions About Angels: Po
by Billy Collins
Why I chose this poem:

Because it so true to my life.

Posted 4/30/19
Lorine Niedecker
by Lorine Niedecker
Why I chose this poem:

Lorine Niedecker's poetry was sort of discovered by accident as freshman in college. Her poems feel so familiar and safe - and then she hits you over the head with some twist of words or imagery that sticks.

Posted 4/29/19
Cover of The Rose that Grew from Co
by Tupac Shakur
Why I chose this poem:

It makes me think about the conditions that we are living in today, all of the negative energy that we are faced with. With that being said it also reminds me of the hope of what we can live in tomorrow.

Posted 4/25/19
Cover of Selected poems of Gabriela
by Gabriela Mistral
Why I chose this poem:

I love her dedication to her calling,  her recognition of how difficult and inspiring it is, her determination to make a difference.  I have a problem with the translation, in the line "Hazme fuerte, aun en mi desvalimiento de mujer"/"Make me strong even in my weakness as woman"; I don't think it's that she's weak, it's that she's undervalued.

Posted 4/24/19
Mark Strand
by Mark Strand
Why I chose this poem:

It’s a favorite poem because it’s beautiful, and sublime, and accessible, and makes me feel at least half a dozen seemingly contradictory things every time I return to it.

Posted 4/23/19
Cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein
Why I chose this poem:

Shel Silverstein's poems are written for children, but this means more to me as an adult.  When the craziness of life gets to me, I can conjure up a peppermint wind that blows away the chaos and takes me back to a world that's bright and carefree.

Posted 4/22/19
Cover of Emma Lararus: Selected Poe
by Emma Lazarus
Why I chose this poem:

sometimes we need a reminder of what we're all about.

Posted 4/21/19
Cover of 100 Essential American Poe
by Walt Whitman
Why I chose this poem:

I read this poem when I was a young child, maybe around age 12. It was a time when I was trying to figure out who I was going to be, what path I would take in my life. I was in foster care and I got passed along to several families, never really feeling connected to any thing.  This poem spoke to me then. It made me feel hopeful that someday I, too, would find my anchor.

Posted 4/20/19
Ogden Nash
by Ogden Nash
Why I chose this poem:

When thinking about favorite poems I tended to think of poems that are melancholy, dark and filled with teen-aged angst.  Now that I'm older I have favorite poets rather than individual poems.  But here is one that I've liked since hearing it so long ago...

I like it because it is light, fun easy to remember and helps with spelling.

Posted 4/19/19
Cover of Bright Dead Things
by Ada Limón
Why I chose this poem:

Until somewhat recently I hadn't read a lot of poetry, mostly because I found it a little intimidating and wasn't sure how to dive in.  On a whim, I checked out Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón​  from the library a few years ago, and ​it quickly became one of my favorite books and got me excited about checking out other poets.  This poem opens the book, and is one of several favorites from the collection.

Posted 4/18/19
Vivek Shraya
by Vivek Shraya
Why I chose this poem:

(The poem can be read top-bottom or side to side) (See "Poem Source" link)

It speaks to the mental clutter that people of color (or anyone with a visible marginalized identity) carry around, which is political because it's a drain on resources: time, energy, and emotional well-being. The poem is a good visual and auditory representation of the constant loop of microaggressions followed by invalidation that ultimately makes racism "our" problem to solve and distracts from all other endeavors: "what would i think of if i wasn't thinking about this / ...who could i be if i wasn't thinking about this?"

Posted 4/16/19
Richard Swanson
by Richard Swanson
Why I chose this poem:

I am sharing this since Richard Swanson is my neighbor and a former Library Board member.  He has gifted Bev and me with several of his books of poetry. This particular poem struck a chord with me since Bev is totally fascinated with handwriting, and for me he mentions on top of his to-do list to return his books to the library. 

Posted 4/16/19
Margaret Atwood
by Margaret Atwood
Why I chose this poem:
My favorite poem has all the things I love in a good song: it's beautiful, sad, and full of longing, yet vaguely hopeful too.
Posted 4/12/19
Cover of Our Numbered Days


by Neil Hilborn
Why I chose this poem:

This first poem is the one I saw in a video a few years back and got me hooked on slam type poetry.

Posted 4/11/19
Cover of  Dog Songs: Thirty-Five Do
by Mary Oliver
Why I chose this poem:

Some months ago brother and I were ruminating about our dogs and their importance to us. I said I think the world is divided between dog people and not-dog people. Mary Oliver's poem exemplifies, for me, what our dogs provide to us. Their dogness enhances our humanness. Does that make sense? (Probably, if you're a dog person.)

Posted 4/10/19
Cover of The Two Towers

The Ent and the Ent-wife

by J.R.R. Tolkien
Why I chose this poem:

I really love Tolkien but, this poem always makes me cry just a bit. The plight of the ents and entwives and how they want to be together.  Also, I really love Treebeard.  

Posted 4/9/19
Cover of The Poems of Marianne Moor
by Marianne Moore
Why I chose this poem:

Marianne Moore was a pioneering poet goddess queen.  "What Are Years" is probably her most accessible and famous poem.  It's one of my favorites because its message, at least as I interpret it, is about finding happiness through the acceptance of one's circumstances and inevitable earthly end.  That idea has given me comfort in trying times, and I can't think of higher praise than that.  Happy National Poetry Month.  Now get out there and read and write some poems!

Posted 4/8/19
Cover of Julie Andrews' Treasury fo
by Billy Collins
Why I chose this poem:

Because: hope

Posted 4/7/19
Cover of The Carrying: Poems
by Ada Limón
Why I chose this poem:

This is my very favorite poem, especially for this time of year, when we're scared to hope for spring.

Posted 4/6/19
Cover of The Dream Keeper and Other
by Langston Hughes
Why I chose this poem:

Every child needs a Dream Keeper in their life.

Posted 4/5/19
Cover of The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Why I chose this poem:

I had a beautifully illustrated book of poetry as a child, and this was my favorite.  I loved to play in the swings in the park across the street from my house growing up.  Playing on the swing is about as close as I can get to flying!  I still love to swing - but can't go as high or for as long as I used to.

Posted 4/4/19
Cover of William Carlos Williams: P
by William Carlos Williams
Why I chose this poem:

It was one of my favorite poems to teach as a Middle School English teacher. We talked about tone, and word choice, and if the author of the poem was really sorry or not. We have all been this person in one situation or another - and I probably would have eaten the plums too, and hoped by husband would forgive me.

Posted 4/3/19
Cover of Debt to the Bone-Eating Sn

Sweet Potato God

by Sarah Lindsay
Why I chose this poem:

This poem is my favorite poem I have ever read for so many reasons. I love the way it chooses joy of everyday items. I love the description of zinnias and iolite pieces, highlighting that beauty is everywhere if you open your eyes to it and look for it. And I most importantly love that this poem, with beauty and joy as the medium, emphasizes that "more than what we need is necessary" -- a message about environmental protection on the ecosystem level, rather than utilitarian benefits of human beings. This poem makes my heart soar and inspires me to live finding the purpose of every item I will ever come across.

Posted 4/2/19
Cover of Ask me : 100 essential poe
by William Stafford
Why I chose this poem:

"My dad, a now-retired literature professor, had this particular poem, "The Way It Is" by William Stafford, copied and displayed on his desk in his home office throughout my childhood. I would read it while waiting for our household computer to start up or reboot when I was working on homework, and it became a sort of mantra to come back to the things that matter even when things seem scattered and impossible on a macro level."

Posted 4/1/19