New Word Order

Because April is National Poetry Month, it seems only appropriate to look to our poet laureate, Billy Collins, for thoughts on poetry and art in general:

Then I blinked and moved on

to other American scenes

of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare

who seemed so wired with alertness

I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

from "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July"

National Poetry Month is probably not marked in red on your calendar right now. But that should change, because poetry has jumped right out of the frame. Because of the hard work and efforts of many local poets and, thanks to the Glendale Public Library poetry is ready to be rediscovered. Or it should be.

Two of those local poets are Sarge and Brandy Lintecum. Father and daughter, respectively, they are living testaments to the revival of poetry. Sarge Lintecum has been a part of the Arizona slam scene for as long as we can remember, and has never tired in his devotion to the art. Commenting on slams' origins, Sarge explains, "Slam poetry evolved as a way to stand up in a bar and do a poem and not be thrown out physically, so your poem had to be very compelling and you had to live it and become it."

Brandy Lintecum says her first exposure to poetry was slam poetry, and she collected the manuscripts of poets she heard on the slam scene. One day she decided to try it and won her first competition. Last year she won the "SlamMaster's Slam Competition," where she competed against all the heads of slam teams across the country. She says of her art, "You can take this amazing ride, just through words. And a lot of people won't just sit down and read poetry, but when it's performed it becomes a translation for the audience."

In addition to hosting an appearance by these local stars on April 10, Glendale Public Library will present performances on Wednesday, April 2, and Thursday, April 3, by the nationally known troupe Poetry Alive!, which works hard to take performance poetry to the level of theater.

Founded in 1984 in Asheville, North Carolina, Poetry Alive! claims to reach about 700,000 children a year through poetry-in-the-classroom activities worldwide. The group's founder, Bob Falls, explains his motivation: "I like the idea of poetry becoming a popular art again instead of something you study and hate."

T.S. Eliot once wrote that April was the cruelest month. We agree, but only in the sense that cruel can also mean honest and nothing can be as honest as one person on a stage, attempting to reach someone in an audience. Celebrate poetry this month by appreciating the brave individuals who step onto that stage, night after night, month after month, whether it's the cruelest month or not.