WHAT IS APRIL GIFTS?
April is National poetry Month, and to celebrate it, I created April Gifts under the umbrella of my previous poetry website, Little Pocket Poetry. I offered a poem each day in April—for ten years—along with commentaries about the poem and its author. The project evolved out of my own need to learn more about poetry, how poems are made, and who makes them. With no formal education in poetry or creative writing, I developed my own course of study and decided to share what I learned with others. I read thousands of poems, stacks of books, and hundreds of literary articles and interviews about poetry and poets.
HOW MUCH TIME DID IT TAKE?
There are 300 April Gifts—30 for each April, 2007 through 2016. Conservatively, each presentation took about 10 hours from start to finish. I figured that if I worked a 40-hour week on this project alone, the 300 entries would represent about a year and a half of my life across the span of the decade. April Gifts was written in my ‘spare time’, away from my regular work as a somatic therapist at the Holistic Health Center of Cincinnati.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE 300 POEMS?
I made copies of the best poems I read and placed them in an old brass cauldron in my bookroom where they simmered for months. Every January, I took up "the contenders"―now boiled down to a couple hundred poems by this point. I read through them again, culling the best of the best in what is largely an inspired process to find 30 "stars" for each April. Although craft was a compelling influence when it came to choosing the poems, craft alone never overrode what I call “the body and soul of the poem”―the poem’s ability to move me emotionally, wake me up, shake me up, or otherwise cause me to pay close attention.
February and March brought more reading, researching and studying the poets who wrote the chosen poems. Then it was down to the business of condensing and organizing the material that would accompany each poem. By mid-March I looked at how the poem order wanted to line up, similar to organizing a chapbook of poems, fraught with its own fun challenges and puzzles to solve. Finally, there was the task of editing, proofreading, and creating the final drafts that were emailed to over 500 folks who love poetry.
SOURCES FOR APRIL GIFTS
All poetry used for the April Gifts project was available in the public domain at the time, or permission for use was granted to me by the individual poet. Biographical and publishing information was found either on poetry websites or at the reliable public library. Poet quotes were gleaned from an assortment of online interviews, from books in my personal library, or through correspondence directly with the poet. All other writing, stories, anecdotes, and musings are the happy consequence of my own creation.
SHARING APRIL GIFTS
April Gifts started out small, so small my hope was that I would connect with only one other person that they might enjoy and benefit from my offerings. That imagined person grew into hundreds of readers who befriended Little Pocket Poetry for a decade. Many readers shared these poems with countless others, scattering their beautiful messages far and wide in the U.S. and other countries around the globe. You are welcome to share this material also.
THE FINE PRINT
If you copy or download any portion of these April Gifts files for yourself or to share with others, please credit me, Susan F. Glassmeyer, as the source. I would appreciate that.