Happy New Year to you! January is a time when we think about New Year’s “resolutions,” so I invite you to join me in introducing and encountering new concepts through new lenses in 2023, beginning with the poems that You read.
New literature can open people to the spirit of personal improvement and constructive change. Sometimes what we read helps us become better versions of ourselves. At other times we need to delve deep into pathos to understand our positions and those of others. I hope you find variety and inspiration in your reading explorations in 2023, including Poem of the Day selections.
When we imagine new things, we also want to wish and act in the interests of hope and lessening the difficulties of others. Poet Ilya Kaminsky’s Instagram profile recently highlighted the bombing of Odessa and the lack of power, water, electricity and heat in Ukraine due to incessant attacks by Russia. The situation in Ukraine and many other ongoing humanitarian crises are a reminder of the continuing suffering in the world and the need for action. Let’s continue to work for all people fighting for their rights, independence and equality.
When choosing the poems for January, I found inspirational words:
“Chinese Female Kung-Fu Superheroes” by Chúc Mỹ Tuệ (Teresa Mei Chuc) is a new favorite for its fantasy of human exploits. The female superheroes of this poem offer opportunity and diversity: They wear brightly colored dresses and “don’t care about barbies. … you are not/impressed; they don’t want a boring life.” These heroes risk their lives, never give up, save cities while dangling and sparkling at the same time. Elizabeth Willis’ poem “In Strength Sweetness” imagines diversity through improbable pairings such as “in the seed / a sun” or “in the fist / a question”. As seen in Eric Weiskott’s new Alliterative Verse/Avant-garde collection, the poem’s connecting virgules, as he identifies them, serve as punctuation that connects contradictions in new imaginations.
New poems and new collections add voices and perspectives to the ever-expanding archive, opening the door to those not previously canonized or widely represented. Poems give voice to complications, contradictions and difficulties, while offering hope for change. By imagining and acting on the imaginary, poetry can help create an existence in which to live, thrive, and appreciate differently. As WS Merwin says in Thank You, the poem of the day for World Religion Day (January 15),
Since nobody is listening, we say thank you
we say thank you and wave
dark even though it is
Though it may be dark, I hope you find new things to dream about and celebrate among these words and others to come.
For power and peace
Robert Eric Schuhmacher