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Tablet Celebrates National Poetry Month

We’re sharing stories about poetry and poets from our archives all month

The Editors
April 01, 2014

“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.

Simkha-Bunim Shayevitch, by Chava Rosenfarb: The untold story of the great epic poem of the Holocaust—and the generous, tragic hero who wrote it.

And now, Blimele, my child,
extinguish your childish joy,
the quicksilver river of your laughter,
and let us make ready for the unknown road.

Peter Cole, by Harold Bloom: The great critic reviews a new collection of verse by the translator and writer Peter Cole.

Words are seeds, like tastes on another’s tongue
Which doesn’t explain—how what’s inside comes
through what is always in between, that seam
of being For what’s within, within remains,
as though it had slipped across the lips of a dream

Mahmoud Darwish, by Joshua Cohen: Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish created a poetry of martyrdom for his people—and a political coup for the idea of the nakba.

So do not reconcile with anything except for this obscure reason. Do not regret a war that ripened you just as August ripens pomegranates on the slopes of stolen mountains. For there is no other hell waiting for you. What once was yours is now against you.

Barry Zaret, by Alexander Aciman: The former chief of cardiology at Yale, Barry Zaret, writes poetry of the heart.

God of cancer,
you are an evil tease.
You give us scattered
hours, even days
of happiness and ease.
Then you take it all back
replaced with weakness, pain,
sleeplessness, fear.

Rachel Wetzsteon, by Adam Kirsch: The poet Rachel Wetzsteon took her life on December 24, 2009.

There was a lull, a break from bliss
when I turned to face the window
looking for all the world, you said,
“like I was composing a new verse.”

Emma Lazarus, by David Bromwich: Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” is a greater symbol of freedom’s light than the Statue of Liberty.

For this I know,
That even as I am, thou also art.
Thou past heroic forms unmoved shalt go,
To pause and bide with me, to whisper low:
“Not I alone am weak, not I apart
Must suffer, struggle, conquer day by day.”

Check out an interactive version of the poem here.

Kanye West/Abel Meeropol, by David Meir Grossman: Abel Meeropol’s ‘Strange Fruit’ gets remixed into Yeezus in a manner worthy of its creator, for song of the year.

I wear my heart on the sleeve
I know that we the new slaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I know that we the new slaves
I see the blood on the leaves

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.