national poetry month

April is National Poetry Month, I discovered, looking at the poetry shelves this weekend at my local used bookstores with my friend tiki (whose birthday it was, incidentally, yesterday). I am going to attempt to write mini-reviews of a poem a day for the remainder of the month to celebrate.

For the first poem, I’ve chosen Chicago, by kent foreman.

I found this poem in the only book of poetry I purchased when I discovered it was national poetry month at the bookstores this weekend, The Spoken Word Revolution, an anthology of spoken word that also includes a CD. Unfortunately, Chicago is not one of the poems read on the CD, but it was the first to really strike me in the book. How could I not like a poem that begins with the lines, “Because I am a patriot, I love this bitch,/You dig?/This sprawling, bawdy breathtaking witch/This pig,”?

Spoken word poetry is both worse and sometimes better because of its colloquial nature–the language that even read “sounds” spoken. This poem does that particularly well, keeping up a sporadic irregular rhyme in the middle of a conversational tone. I admire the lack of indent structure, the visual flow of the poem as it meanders down the page, sometimes sharply returning to the left margin, sometimes flowing gracefuly back and forth. Some of my other favorite lines: “I know her for a great American Janus/’Cause, once, I was a ghetto urchin/Playing in her anus” and “My God, in spring,/Chicago balls the populace.”

Perhaps the only disappointing part of the poem for me is the ending, and I don’t mean in a cleched “sad it’s over” kind of way. The idea, interjected in the last few lines, is that the narrator loves chicago, but he’s leaving. Before that, the poem was basicaly an Ode, and I think I liked it better when I thought it was. I probably would have preferred the author leave off the last three lines, and end with the lines just before… calling back to that great opening, with “This is The Truth!/I love this faithless bitch/That robbed me of my youth”.

All in all, this was a great poem.

As a side note, if I keep this up, which I hope to, I will only be reviewing what I think are great poems. You dig?

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