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California Humanities Poetry Recommendations: Celebrating National Poetry Month

Discussing and sharing literature is an activity enjoyed by our staff. This April, we share some of our favorite poems plus a poetry anthology to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Julie Fry – President & CEO
Julie recalls holding onto a poetry book for years growing up that was an anthology of many different poets. Though published in 1970, it includes seminal poets like Gary Snyder, Countee Cullen, Adrienne Rich, and Langston Hughes. She was excited to be reunited with the anthology in a free neighborhood library last year. The collection, The Voice That Is Great Within Us, can be viewed at https://poets.org/book/voice-great-within-us.

 

Cherie Hill – Communications Manager
Cherie suggests checking out “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and listening to the magnificent reading of the poem by Maya Angelou. This poem provided inspiration for a dance piece she choreographed for the University of San Francisco dance concert in 2019.

Sheri Kuehl – Director of Development A book is open and has a small bouquet of dry flowers on top.
Postscript by Seamus Heaney and Nostalgia by Billy Collins are two of Sheri’s favorite poems. Billy Collins, who was born in Manhattan, NY, received his M.A. and PhD. in romantic poetry from the University of California, Riverside, in 1971, where he became influenced by writers such as Robert Peters, Karl Shapiro, and Reed Whittemore.

Renée Perry – Operations Manager
Chrystos is a Menominee poet, writer, and activist born in San Francisco, CA, currently living on Vashon Island in Washington State. Renée became acquainted with Chrystos while living in Seattle and recommends reading “Ceremony for Completing a Poetry Reading,” especially when considering this last year’s crisis.

The book cover for Puerto Rico en Mi Corazon. Kirsten Vega – Program Associate
Did you know that The Paris Review’s free Morning Poetry newsletter is a terrific way to discover new poems? Kirsten enjoys Puerto Rico En Mi Corazón, a collection of translated poems edited by Carina del Valle Schorske from San Rafael, CA. One of her favorites from the book is “de No Lugar/ Family” by Cindy Jimenez Vera, translated by Alex Maldondo Lizardi.

In memory of poets who recently passed away, she recommends:
Irish poet Eavan Boland’s book, A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming A Woman Poet, part travelogue, part memoir, W.S. Merwin’s beautiful poem “The Morning,” and Stanley Plumly’sAt Night.”

Cover photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels Courtesy of Canva. Top left photo The Voice That Is Great Within Us book cover. Top right photo by Melissa Thomas from Pexels Courtesy of Canva. Bottom left photo Puerto Rico En Mi Corazón book cover.

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