Poet's Corner — April

Apr 03, 2014

In April

This I saw on an April day:

Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,

A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,

And a cock pheasant treading a dusty path

Shy and proud.

And this I found in an April field:

A new white calf in the sun at noon,

A flash of blue in a cool moss bank,

And tips of tulips promising flowers

To a blue-winged loon.

And this I tried to understand

As I scrubbed the rust from my brightening plow:

The movement of seed in furrowed earth,

And a blackbird whistling sweet and clear

From a green-sprayed bough

─James Hearst 1900-1983

Reprinted by permission of, and with thanks to, the University of Northern Iowa Foundation.

James Hearst, the author of 12 books of poetry, was an Iowa native sometimes known as the Robert Frost of the Midwest. He spent most of his life in a wheelchair, after a spinal injury when he was 19, yet his impeccable poetry is so lithe and vibrant. He and Robert Frost were esteemed friends. Frost offered to take one of Hearst's manuscripts to his publisher in New York, but Hearst declined, because he wanted his poetry to be published in the Midwest. And so it was. Hearst was on the faculty of the University of Northern Iowa and they sponsor a poetry prize in his name.

April is National Poetry Month and Belfast blooms with events and celebrations. You are literarily encouraged to take a poet to lunch.

On Friday April 4, Poets on Poetry at the Belfast Library, hosted by Belfast Poet Laureate Ellen Sander, will feature a prime cut of Belfast's poetic luminaries, Elizabeth Garber, Jacob Fricke, Karin Spitfire, Linda Buckmaster and Lauren Murray to start, and the rest of the program is open to readers from anywhere who are invited to bring a poem about poetry amongst the works they choose to present. The reading starts at 6:30 p.m.

Every Belfast poetry event between now and October is a precursor to the 10th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival. Collaborative teams combining poetry with visual art, performance art or music are invited to submit a proposal to perform in the Festival. Copies of the Open Call (submission guidelines) will be available at this event. The deadline for submissions is April 15. To obtain copies of the Open Call by email, send a request to belfastpoetry@gmail.com.

On Monday, April 21, the sensational documentary Louder Than A Bomb, about high school poetry slam teams in Chicago, will be screened for one night only at the Colonial Theater in Belfast during a fundraising party for the 10th Annual Belfast Poetry Festival. Admission is $10 for adults; high school and college students are free. Reception is at 6:30 p.m., the screening starts at 7 p.m. There will be refreshments and a cash bar.

Poets Corner is curated by Ellen Sander, the Poet Laureate of Belfast, and open to submissions. Send submissions in the body of an email (not an attachment) to laureate@belfastpoetry.com. Feel free to use that email address to communicate any questions, requests, suggestions or issues about poetry in Belfast. Poet Laureate office hours continue Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in the Belfast Free Library third floor conference room.

Have a culture break at the office. Surprise your customers. If you are a Belfast business and would like a poem read by a local poet at your business or workplace during National Poetry Month, contact Ellen Sander as above.

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