Poetry has given so much to our culture and society that everyone should get up and read their favorite ode or sonnet aloud.
At the height of my discovery, I saw an announcement on Poets.org about an online celebration called Poets-to-Poets, in which young students from grades 3-12 can write and submit poems “in response to those shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.”
- Poet Laureate of California Juan Felipe Herrera
- National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Edward Hirsch
- NEA and Guggenheim Fellow Jane Hirshfield
- Lannan Foundation Fellow Naomi Shihab Nye
- Pulitzer Prize-nominee Ron Padgett
- Jackson Poetry Prize-winner Arthur Sze, and
- Cofounder (with Allen Ginsberg) of the Naropa Institute Anne Waldman.
Imagine the honour of writing to Edward Hirsch or Jane Hirshfield and actually receiving a meaningful response from them!
I’m not qualified to participate, but watching and listening to Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Five Directions to My House” and his meaningful reflection about poetry pushed me to write my own poem and send it to the organization.
Here’s my email to Poets.org:
My name is Stephanie Gonzaga, a practicing poet from the Philippines. Happy National Poetry Month!
I am not a student between grades 3-12, but I love the idea behind Poets-to-Poets Project and would like to send a poem in response to Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Five Directions to My House.”
I would appreciate it from the depths of my heart if you would share this with him and let him know that his piece and his words— how wonderful it is to “give the poem a little time of our lives”—touched me deeply.
North of my desk: children tossing balls
a chance to make them soar.
West of my desk: final afternoon rays dim
for the eve of summer stars.
South of my desk: mayas perched on burgundy roofs
watching balls of light begin to burn.
East of my desk: mongrels howling, their voices reminiscent
Of a distant wilderness
Here, at my desk, I stare at the clock
How the arrows never stop.
Knowing how distant we are, I expected nothing from the interaction. I thought the conversation would end there, but received a pleasant response by Mr. Herrera himself!
I’ve lost the email already, but he thanked me for the poem, for participating in the Poets-to-Poets program, and encouraged me to continue writing.
My heart soared in reading his words, and proved to me that poetry can connect despite the distance in between.