National Poetry Month

student Recommendations

"Deadline" by Barbara Kingsolver

Deadline, by Barbara Kingsolver, unpacks the true meaning of community within a broken core of humanity. Everyone in the war zone is feeling the same way: they are together for like reasons. The fires touch them, and what they experience is ageless and timeless because they have stayed and have been protected by their own individual faith and hopes. The war weighs heavy on them in a physical sense, but is also used for reflection on where this devastation will carry society. Kingsolver reveals that we all have the power to provide a light to a blurred world among confusion and sadness, and if everyone is joined in unity, there is a unique, profound ability to cast away the darkness we encounter no matter the circumstances. Our school motto is "Men for Others" which sparks opportunities every day for students to live this out. As brothers, we must be as immovable as the harmonized citizens in the poem. There is a calling to build a bond that cannot be broken, and illuminate the path for change—a way out.

- Recommended by Ben Kennebeck '20


The night before war begins, and you are still here.
You can stand in a breathless cold
ocean of candles, a thousand issues of your same face
rubbed white from below by clear waxed light.
A vigil. You are wondering what it is
you can hold a candle to.

You have a daughter. Her cheeks curve
like aspects of the Mohammed's perfect pear.
She is three. Too young for candles but
you are here, this is war.
Flames covet the gold-sparked ends of her hair,
her nylon parka laughing in color,
inflammable. It has taken your whole self
to bring her undamaged to this moment,
and waiting in the desert at this moment
is a bomb that flings gasoline in a liquid sheet,
a laundress's snap overhead, wide as the ancient Tigris,
and ignites as it descends.

The polls have sung their opera of assent: the land
wants war. But here is another America,
candle-throated, sure as tide.
Whoever you are, you are also this granite anger.
In history you will be the vigilant dead
who stood in front of every war with old hearts
in your pockets, stood on the carcass of hope
listening for the thunder of its feathers.

The desert is diamond ice and only stars above us here
and elsewhere, a thousand issues of a clear waxed star,
a holocaust of heaven
and somewhere, a way out.

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