National Poetry Month

student Recommendations

"The Breaking of the Glass" by Jason Sommer

Today is the last day of April, the last day of National Poetry Month; but that doesn't mean it has to be the last day you take time to read and consider a poem recommended by a friend or a loved one, a poem you discovered randomly in a book store or heard being read on the radio or on YouTube. With summer on the horizon, there might be entire hours (days?) to devote to exploring poetry, reveling in its music, taking delight in its challenge.

Our final poem was recommended by no fewer than three SLUH Juniors from three different sections of Junior English taught by different instructors. Rather than have them compete with one another, we'll simply share the poem and let you come to your own understanding of its power and its challenge.

The Breaking of the Glass

He observed that the rabbis present were very gay.
So he seized a costly goblet...and broke it
before them. Thus he made them somber.
- Talmud

Make me a wedding glass of crystal
to outlast the shrillest of pitches
of a solid scream,
the heel above the temple
and the people dragged
along the shards.

One true form of tears
is heaps of glass--
From windows with their faces kicked-in
and the family's crystal
and all the unlucky mirrors of the houses
now with their several million faces
that cannot reflect.

God gave Moses a mouth
that brimmed with glass
that when he spoke
his pain was keen
and the blood came to his face.
This was His way of saying:
I am the Lord
My voice is in
the gusting of the wind
and the stuttering of men
and the breaking of the glass.

a spirit of april

For ages, poets—William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes, to name but a few—have been inspired by the month of April. From Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous celebration of April’s “sweet showers” in his opening to The Caterbury Tales to T.S. Eliot’s unforgettable lament in “The Wasteland” that “April is the cruelest month,” April figures prominently in some of the greatest poems. Perhaps this is because as both in nature and the spiritual season of Easter, April is a time of renewal and rebirth, a time when nature explodes with new warmth, new color, new life--or as the great Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, wrote in his poem, “Spring,” “all this juice and all this joy.”

Thus, it is fitting that April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate and to promote the reading of contemporary poetry, the SLUH Junior English teachers are sharing a poetry “recommendation” from a SLUH junior of a memorable poem on each of the remaining school days in April, a product of the Junior English independent poetry project. Please sample and enjoy these poems and nominations; though many will offer the opportunity, as Robert Frost famously quipped about poetry, to “begin in delight and end in wisdom,” you may find some of these poems will challenge you, even push you toward growth that may make you uncomfortable. Please know we offer these poem's in a spirit of goodwill and, well, a spirit of April.

- Mr. Kavanaugh and the Junior English Team