April is poetry month

Poet W.S. Merwin.

On the horizon is one of our favorite months of spring. April not only signals the end to a very long winter in Alaska, but since 1996, the month has been declared National Poetry Month. It was organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.

Recently, one of our country’s most respected and enduring poets, W.S. Merwin passed away. Merwin was twice named the U.S. Poet laureate and he also won a National Book Award and two Pulitzer Prizes. Most of his poetry is known for its mystery and wonder.

Merwin often wrote about the ecological movement, worrying about the planet from his beloved and lush rainforest home in Maui. He wanted his writing to be ‘urgent’ so, to start, Merwin decided to do away with punctuation.

Another poetry month idea to begin to plan for is “poem in your pocket day.” Poem in Your Pocket Day 2019 is on April 18 and is part of National Poetry Month. On this day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, street corners and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Here is one of W.S. Merwin’s inspiring poems that captures the conservation work he cared about. Merwin’s Maui home, where he raised more than 2,000 trees, will all be set aside as part of the Merwin Conservancy.

Place

On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree

what for
not for the fruit

the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted

I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time

with the sun already 
going down

and the water
touching its roots

in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing

one by one
over its leaves

—W.S. Merwin