From Jennifer L. Holberg
It’s already 9 days into April, or as the literati like to call it, National Poetry Month. I hope you’ve been celebrating appropriately—or even inappropriately, if that’s what poetry inspires in you (just keep your daffodil-frolicking to yourself).
As an English professor, obviously, I’m contractually obligated to think of every month as poetry month, but I’ve been doing my bit nonetheless by spending time in my Brit lit survey course with modernist poets, such as Yeats, of whose verse one student wrote “It doesn’t seem like much more than a bunch of words on paper.” Admittedly, poems about odd desert creatures crawling towards Bethlehem or women being assaulted by gods-in-swan-form are a little weird. And maybe even a little confusing.
But Yeats is in good company. I spent an extended period in my car on Monday, and I ended up listening to the radio. Nothing as elevated as NPR. No, I admit it: Top 40. As a culture, we may not read much poetry any more collectively, but we do know song lyrics. And as I bopped along to the admittedly hooky beats, I realized how many of the current hits are somewhat mystifying themselves.
Take the current #1 song in the land: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Upbeat and joyful-sounding—and completely odd.