Prepare for April 2010.....

What's happening in April, you ask?

That's right.  National Poetry Month is coming up quickly.  And this year, A Reader's Respite is doggedly determined to overcome our general fear and loathing of that which we don't understand:  Poetry.

You see, aside from our strange ability to recite Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade in it's entirety from memory, A Reader's Respite has managed to avoid poetry in all shapes and forms.  We suspect that this is yet another result of our sub-par primary education and if it were possible to sue a high school English teacher for gaps in education, Mr. Bellings would be in deep trouble right about now.

We consulted several poetic geniuses and acknowledged experts on the subject and they all recommended the following complicated solution:

Read. More. Poetry.

Easy for them to say.  But it's true.  Everyone recommends that we read poetry, then some more poetry, and even more poetry to find what we like. What speaks to us.

One especially enjoyable place to explore poetry in a historical context is a fantastic new site comprised of poetry centering around the American Dust Bowl during the Great Depression (we admit that the historical aspect appealed to us....kind of like historical fiction, but historical poetry instead).

Rain: A Dust Bowl Story is a collection of poems - a new one each day - by poet Shelly Shaver, a college professor originally from West Texas.  The poems are not disjointed....together they reveal the story of a farming family struggling through the devastation of the Great Depression.  Each poem can be taken individually, but together they create an even bigger picture.  It's a very cool concept.

The best part about the site is that there is plenty of interaction between the reader and the can ask questions, comment freely, and not feel intimidated if poetry isn't your literary forte.

So check it out....pretty cool stuff, even for us poetry illiterates.

And we'll leave you with our sad, sad claim-to-fame: 

Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismayed?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Someone had blundered:
Theirs was not to make reply,
Theirs was not to reason why,
Theirs was but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell,
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air,
Sab'ring the gunners there,
Charging and army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunging in the battery smoke,
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not--
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that fought so well,
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of the six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
Oh, the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble Six Hundred!

The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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