April is my favorite month for a trillion reasons. For starters, it’s my birth month (April 2)! And it’s SPRING. And it’s National Poetry Month, which might just seem like another obscure, made-up holiday, but it’s not. I promise.
This one’s actually very real and very official, and it was introduced by the equally real, equally official Academy of American Poets all the way back in 1996. Since then, it’s been adopted by thousands of schools and bookshops and libraries, and now it brings joy to people all over the world, including me, and hopefully, in just a moment, you.
Last night, I attended the Academy’s annual Poetry & The Creative Mind reading at Lincoln Center here in New York City. Meryl Streep read two of her favorite poems (!!!) as did Meg Ryan (!!!!!!!) and also Wayne Brady (…?…!!!!!!!!!!). There was ukulele-playing. And singing. And a very sweet audience comprised of people whose average age was likely trice mine.
Anyway, it was a lovely night, and it got me thinking that I should really highlight a few of my favorite poems here on the blog and on my YouTube channel from time to time.
Enter: today’s post. “Poetry and pudding.” It’s an excuse for me to share my most-loved poems with you under the innocent guise of alliteration. Every time I make a dish that starts with “P,” I’ll share a poem, too. (This will probably be equal parts genius and hilarious. You try figuring out a way to combine poetry with a food blog.)
There’s a beautiful quote by Marlene Dietrich that reads, “It is a joy to find thoughts one might have beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizably wiser than oneself,” and that’s how I’ve always felt about the poems I’ve loved (although Dietrich was actually talking about quotations in general). Good poetry encapsulates thoughts we’ve always had, or thoughts we didn’t know we were having, and weaves them into something beautiful and pocket-sized—a gem brilliant and substantive enough to merit our interest, but always small enough for us to carry. And then, at an arm’s length, it becomes easier to see, understand, untangle, admire, or laugh at whatever that thought was that brought us to the poem in the first place.
“For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.” (That’s Mary Oliver.)
So, without further ado, a few of my personal favorites, after which, of course, is the promised recipe for vanilla chia pudding with a berry compote, which is so delicious and really doesn’t even need any sweetener if you mix it all together.