“April is the cruellest month, breeding,” sang T.S. Eliot. “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” launched Chaucer. Sayeth Tablet, “Yea, April is National Poetry Month.” Our archives are proudly brimming with material about poetry and poets: interviews with Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, literary criticism of new work, appreciations, commemorations, obituaries, celebrations, readings, profiles, and new original verse.
Each week this month we’ll be bringing you highlights from Tablet’s archive. Please join us in helping the American Academy of Poets carry the flame.
On the compass platter, traces
Of the species that devises
The Angel of Death to sail
Over our legible doorpost
Smeared with sacrifice.
— Robert Pinsky, from Gulf Music
David Berman, by Thomas Beller: A tribute to the free-associating genius of the Silver Jews, whose work has flowed in and out of Beller’s life
If Christ had died in a hallway we might pray in hallways
or wear little golden hallways around our necks.
Listen to a Vox Tablet podcast featuring Berman here.
Amiri Baraka, by Jake Marmer: Kaddish for the recently deceased poet with a history of bigotry, from a poet with a feeling for jazz.
… All the poems
are full of it. Shit and hope, and history. Read this line
young colored or white and know I felt the twist of dividing
Adrienne Rich, by David Kaufmann: Adrienne Rich reckons with the question of how to write lyric poetry in the face of war and economic hardship.
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
Edward Hirsch, by David Kaufmann: Poet Edward Hirsch and the dignity of everyday existence
Forgive me, faith, for never having any.
I did not believe in God,
who eluded me.
Shmuel Nadler, by Eddy Portnoy: In early 20th-century Poland, poet Shmuel Nadler took off his yarmulke and took up with the Communists
A glowing sun
You have hung upon the skies,
And the trees and I
Draw strength from the sun’s burning.
Praised be God
Creator of Light.
Dahlia Ravikovitch, by Adam Kirsch: Dahlia Ravikovitch and the poetry of the plainspoken
I was a clockwork doll, but then
That night I turned round and round
And fell on my face, cracked on the ground,
And they tried to piece me together again.
Avrom Sutzkever, Three Poems:
How will you fill your goblet
On the day of liberation? And with what?
Are you prepared, in your joy, to endure
The dark keeing you have heard
Where skulls of days glitter
In a bottomless pit?
Plus, your weekly dose of Scroll Verse: Adding It Up by Jake Marmer.
Tablet will be dark on Tuesday and Wednesday in observance of Passover.