My Thoughts · poetry

April—National Poetry month! Read!

April—National Poetry month! Thirty days to celebrate one of my favorite genres. So, this month I dedicate to sharing about my favorite poets and their poetry and some of my poetry! Enjoy!

April—National Poetry Month

“Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month is a special occasion that celebrates poets’ integral role in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and—of course—poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives.”

As a teacher, I loved this site for their resources:

This Year’s Poster

National Poetry Month April 2023

Poem in Your Pocket Daily

Mary Oliver, a National Treasure

I first learned about Mary Oliver at a recover retreat when Fr. Tom Weston shared her poem, The Journey. I knew I had found a soulmate in the poetry world.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began, Though the voices around you Kept shouting
Their bad advice‚
Though the whole house
Began to tremble
And you felt the old tug
At your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
Each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do, Though the wind pried
With its stiff fingers
At the very foundations‚ Though their melancholy
Was terrible.
It was already late
Enough, and a wild night,
And the road full of fallen Branches and stones.
But little by little,
As you left their voices behind, The stars began to burn Through the sheets of clouds, And there was a new voice, Which you slowly
Recognized as your own,
That kept you company
As you strode deeper and deeper Into the world,
Determined to do
The only thing you could do‚ Determined to save
The only life you could save.

More Mary Oliver poems in my life

From then on, Fr. Tom continued to share at various retreats, and I collected her books. My favorite, Devotions: Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, is “a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.”

Mary’s astute observation of this world fascinates me, so her favorite topic is nature—animals, ponds, and relationship. Her specific details in her poems shows her deep commitment to looking at this amazing world up close and personal and seeing it in the way a photographer would capture it—the details were everything with her. And in many of her poems, she weaves God in the lines, showing me a kind, gentle, loving God. 

Yet, she also wrote a poetry book entitled Blue Horses with a poem titled “Franz Marc’s Blue Horses.” I had to look that reference up!

Blue Horses or Die grossen blauen Pferde (The Large Blue Horses) is a 1911 painting by German painter and printmaker Franz Marc.”

She grew up in a small town in Ohio, so here’s another place we connected—small towns and all they have to off the poet’s heart. “Oliver lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Hobe Sound, Florida, until her death in early 2019. She was 83.”

I never heard her voice, seeing her perform a poem, but this picture of her in her elder years speaks volumes—her words have touched millions!


Mary has several well-known poems sharing her faith. With this being Palm Sunday, I leave you with this poem of hers and a haiku of mine.

The Poet Thinks about the Donkey

On the outskirts of Jerusalem
the donkey waited.
Not especially brave, or filled with understanding,
he stood and waited.

How horses, turned out into the meadow,
   leap with delight!
How doves, released from their cages,
   clatter away, splashed with sunlight.

But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited.
Then he let himself be led away.
Then he let the stranger mount.

Never had he seen such crowds!
And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen.
Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient.

I hope, finally, he felt brave.
I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him,
as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward.

From Mary’s book, Thirst

My Haiku

Palms covered the ground

Crowds praised Jesus riding by.

Right now, they cheered but. . .

I will leave you with this picture of Mary I love and quote from her, ” Poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It’s mustn’t be fancy.”

Mary Oliver - April

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