Friday, October 01, 2010

Poetry Month

Despite rival claims, October is the true Poetry Month, a fact I suspected forty years ago and have subsequently confirmed. Throughout the month, on their birthdays, I will celebrate the poets of October by posting their work and writing about it. Readers are encouraged to nominate poets who meet two criteria: They were born in October, and I enjoy and admire at least one of their poems. The latter requirement eliminates from consideration James Whitcomb Riley, Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath. My list includes:

Wallace Stevens: Oct. 2, 1879
Fulke Greville: Oct. 3, 1554
Flann O’Brien: Oct. 5, 1911
Marina Tsvetaeva: Oct. 9, 1892
Eugenio Montale: Oct. 12, 1896
E.E. Cummings: Oct. 14, 1894
Publius Vergilius Maro: Oct. 15, 70 BCE
Mikhail Lermontov: Oct. 15, 1814
P.G. Wodehouse: Oct. 15, 1881
Les Murray: Oct. 17, 1938
Yvor Winters: Oct. 17, 1900
Arthur Rimbaud: Oct. 20, 1854
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Oct. 21, 1772
Robert Bridges: Oct. 23, 1844
John Berryman, Oct. 25, 1914
Andrew Motion: Oct. 26, 1952
Zbigniew Herbert: Oct. 29, 1924
Paul Valery: Oct. 30, 1871
Ezra Pound: Oct. 30, 1885
John Keats: Oct. 31, 1795

I kick off Poem Month with “October” by Donald Justice, born Aug. 12, 1925:

“Summer, goodbye.
The days grow shorter.
Cranes walk the fairway now
In careless order.

“They step so gradually
Toward the distant green
They might be brushstrokes
Animating a screen.

“Mist canopies
The water hazard.
Nearby, the little flag lifts,
Brave but frazzled.

“Under sad clouds
Two white-capped golfers
Stand looking off, dreamy and strange,
Like young girls in Balthus.”


Purushurama said...

I nominate William IX of Aquitane, Giambattista Marino, Leconte de Lisle, Alphonse de Lamartine, and Andre Chenier. None, perhaps, as great as Greville, Winters, Montale, or Murray, but each offers qualified pleasures.

Anonymous said...

The list as it stands is Scot-free so let me nominate for rhadamanthine scrutiny:

George Mackay Brown: 17 October 1921
Douglas Dunn: October 23, 1942
Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain): 26 October 1911

William A. Sigler said...

I would not presume to interest you in Sohrab Sepehri (10/7/1928), Shabbir Banoobhai (10/23/1949), or Ayten Mutlu (10/6/1952)—much less Aleister Crowley (10/12/1875), Amiri Baraka (10/7/1934) or Eminem (10/17/1972) – but I surely would like to see Berryman go down to the bottom of the barrel with Geoffrey Chaucer (10/25/1342), Philip Whalen (10/20/1923) explain Buddhism to Rimbaud, or Patrick Kavanagh (10/21/1904) debate with Coleridge over whether the mystical should be concrete or the concrete mystical. Or maybe some of those vacant slots could be filled with the sounds of, say, Robert Fitzgerald (10/12/1910), Oscar Wilde (10/17/1854), Denise Levertov (10/24/1923), or John Hollander (10/28/1929).

But as the late Bob Ross (10/29/1942), the public television painting instructor with the hippie voice and muted rainbow ‘fro, used to say: “it’s your world, you can put whatever you want into it.”