In the spirit of National Poetry Month (April), the Indiana Humanities Council will be posting a series of poems by Indiana poets, whom Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf invited to participate. We’ll head into the month with a statement and poem from Norbert Krapf.
The Indiana Poet Laureate is in effect the poetry ambassador for the state and also represents poetry to the world beyond. The poet laureate gives talks and readings in schools, libraries, community centers, and to various groups, but also promotes the work of Indiana poets by scheduling and introducing a reading series like the April Artsgarden Poetry Series at noon on Mondays, begun by my predecessor Joyce Brinkman, or like the Words on Wings: Indiana Poets mini-festival I helped to organize for the Indiana Historical Bureau at the State Library in August.
In my view, poetry and song are kissing cousins. To help reunite these cousins too often separated by the academy, I have given performances around the state with my jazz pianist and composer Monika Herzig and the group of singer-songwriters and their bands who participate in the Hoosier Dylan show that has taken place in various old theatres in central and southern Indiana. I have also read poems at concerts by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the University of Indianapolis Chorus, the Butler Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and at a number of house concerts. And I have taped my poems for inclusion in Cary Allen Fields’ themed programs for his “Fields of Bluegrass Hour” and “Redbud Radio” (Americana music) on WICR.
Poetry and song always have a place and a future. They cannot be stamped out. They are expressions of the human spirit that will out! If a poetry magazine or press, a reading series, or an open mic in one place goes under, it will sprout up somewhere else. Poetry is an expression of the human spirit and as long as there are human beings alive somewhere, there will be poetry. As Ezra Pound said, it matters that great poems get written, but it matters not who writes them.
Poetry may not sell much in our country, but it’s very much alive everywhere, in classes, in bars, restaurants, and cafes, in libraries and community centers, in concerts where folksingers alternate with poets and jazz trios back spoken-word poets, in slams, in performance poet venues. People who learn how to read or hear poems can follow their intuitions into them and come out with their intellects awakened. Reading poems helps people learn how to write, compress their language, express their feelings, and become aware of their inner lives and that of other people. How can that not be of value to anyone who wishes to be aware, articulate, and fully human?
Readers may find information about me and my work at http://www.krapfpoetry.com/ and www.in.gov/arts/2393.htm. I offer the following poem for National Poetry Month because of what I have said about poetry and the life of the spirit (Rumi is the 13th-century mystic Sufi poet who is the best-selling poet in the U.S. today):
Rumi for Breakfast
I am in a hospital cafeteria
eating breakfast, looking out
on a garden of pink roses,
green lily and pachysandra.
My mouth is eating scrambled
eggs and fruit and sipping tea.
My mind and spirit are reading
Rumi’s poems about living
in two worlds, the outer and inner,
about being in one place
and another at the same time.
As I take sip after sip
of this spirit, I feel
healthier and healthier.
Rumi, what a doctor!
You can see a number of Indiana poets in action at the Artsgarden (above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets, Indianapolis) throughout April during National Poetry Month. Poetry readings will be performed each Monday at 12:15 p.m. For a schedule of events, click here.