My get-pumped factor generally jumps into high gear this time of year because mid-March means April is on the way, and April is the officially-designated month for celebrating two of humanity’s most enduring creative triumphs: poetry and jazz.
I’m particularly jazzed this year over the poetry side of this cultural equation for several reasons: First off, I remain impressed by the fact that the U.S.’ new commander-in-chief gracefully endured throughout the 2008 presidential campaign accusations that he is more poet than fighter or leader, but then dared to unleash upon his critics a barrage of politically-charged brilliance that propelled him right into the White House. Secondly, I’ve been blessed to see several of my poems published thus far in 2009 with a promise of more on the way. And the third reason for my inspired frame of mind is the current celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Academy of American Poets .
Poetry, like jazz, is one of those dazzling diamonds of creative industry that help human beings make sense out of the comedies and tragedies that contextualize our lives. Marie Bullock founded the Academy of American Poets in 1934 because she felt the contemporary scene in her country showed a lack of quality, substance, and the somewhat reverential status that poetry commanded in other (translation: European) countries. Ironically enough––or maybe serendipitously enough––jazz was very much the American Music of choice at that time and its influence had helped to produce a veritable legion of highly regarded poets affiliated with the Harlem Renaissance from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Nevertheless: the birth of the Academy meant the birth of a movement designed to inspire, cultivate, and preserve the voice of American poets. And although it likely was not his intention to do so, President Barack Obama extended that movement not only by bearing the “stigma” of being an accomplished wordsmith but by inviting Elizabeth Alexander––an author of several books but of whom many had never heard until Obama spoke her name––to serve as his Inauguration Day poet.
My own invitation to join the celebration is delivered every time I experience the impulse to sit, walk, or talk with my muse and compose poetry. Not so long ago, however, I actually received a particularly notable invitation in the form of a commemorative 75th Anniversary Membership Card for 2009. On it sits my name in a raised gold font; the accompanying letter from Executive Director Tree Swenson includes the following: “…Your card signifies your connection with so many generations of American poets who, without the Academy’s help…simply could not have brought their work to life for new readers and audiences across the country.”
Even in these economically butt-kicking times, that’s reason enough to put on some jazz, scribble as few lines, and cough up some contribution funds to help keep a good noble thing going.
Causes Aberjhani * Supports
I make contributions to a number of charities through my lenses on Squidoo but the following are a few that interest me the most: