April is National Poetry Month — and to celebrate, Bonny, Kat, Sarah, and I are sharing some poetry each Thursday in April. This week, we’ll each be sharing a different poem by the current United States Poet Laureate, Ada Limón.
Although I’ve heard the term “poet laureate” many times over the years, I didn’t actually know much about the position, or what the poet laureate does. So I googled it. Here are a couple of little “factoids” about the United States Poet Laureate — because I thought you might be interested, too:
- The actual title of the position is Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, but most people just refer to it as Poet Laureate. It is a two-year appointment made by the Librarian of Congress.
- During their term, the poet laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The position earns an annual stipend of $35,000 (funded by an individual donor), and duties include presenting an annual lecture, poetry readings (of their own work, and other poets, too) and hosting an annual poetry festival. Each poet laureate takes on a project of their own during their tenure. (These are really interesting; you can read more about them here.)
(While this IS my garden, it is NOT my garden NOW. This photo was taken last June. My garden IS coming to life, but we have no leaves on the trees . . . yet.)
Today, I’m sharing the first Ada Limón poem I ever encountered. While I have many “favorite” Ada Limón poems, I think this one will always be my actual favorite. I particularly like the notion of leaves . . . “growing over whatever winter did to us.” It seems like the perfect poem for spring . . . finally showing up after a long and dreary winter. (And, of course, as a wonderful metaphor for . . . life.)
Instructions on Not Giving Up
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist. I’ll take it all.
Happy National Poetry Month. I hope you’re enjoying our month-long celebration of poetry.
Today’s poem is from The Carrying, by Ada Limón, and published by Milkweed Editions, 2018. For more information about today’s poet, Ada Limón, click here.