April is National Poetry Month and Connecticut certainly has its share of poetic events. Bring on the sonnets, limericks, haiku, couplets and epic poems and be prepared to be dazzled by cerebral creativity. Make April complete and check out some of these poetic gems in Connecticut because, as Wallace Stephens once wrote, “The purpose of poetry is to make life complete in itself.”
~ Wallace Stephens ~
You simply cannot have a discussion about poetry in Connecticut without Stephens being on the top of the agenda. Listed in more “Top 10 Poets” lists than one can shake a lexicon at, his modernistic work is both brilliantly imaginative and realistic. From his first collection, the 1923 break-through “Harmonium” collection of 85 poems, to his last, the 1954 Pulitzer Prize winning “Collected Poems,” Stephens’ work proved his mastery throughout his life, and beyond.
Wallace Stephens Walk
starts at The Hartford Financial Services Group
690 Asylum Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
Walk in the footsteps of one of America’s greatest poets, both literally and literature-ly. Stephens never caved into pressure to get a car and instead walked every workday to/from his home at 118 Westerly Terrace in Hartford to his job at Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company (now The Hartford). One of his best-known poems, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” is carved in granite along 13 markers along the 2.4 mile journey from Asylum Avenue into Hartford’s West End. This daily walk was likely when Stephens opened up his mind to the internal creative genius that later led to his poems, perhaps becoming intoxicated from the sights and sounds around him.
The Wallace Stephens Poetry Program – 50th Anniversary
2075 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269
Dates: April 9-10
Since 1964, The University of Connecticut’s English Department has held the Wallace Stephens Program, which consists of poetry readings by both nationally prominent poets and UConn students. The year 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of this annual event, which since 1996, includes a Hartford reading and a reading on the UConn campus in Storrs, CT. This year’s feature poet is Boston native and current Connecticut resident Susan Howe. On April 9 at 10 a.m., she will read at Hartford’s Classical Magnet School (located at 85 Woodland Street along the Wallace Stephens Walk in Hartford) and again on April 10 at 7 p.m. at Konover Auditorium at UConn’s Storrs Campus. In addition, to celebrate the silver anniversary, Howe will also present a special lecture on Wallace Stephens at UConn on April 10th at 4 p.m.
Riverwood Poetry Series
The Music Room – Asylum Hill Congregational Church
814 Asylum Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
Date: April 11
National Book Critics Circle Award winner and regular columnist for The Nation, Katha Pollitt brings her rhythmic prose to the Riverwood Poetry Series in celebration of National Poetry Month. Pollit is known as an American feminist poet and has authored two books of poetry: “Antarctic Traveller” (1982) and “The Mind-Body Problem” (2009). Admission is free and donations of non-perishable food is accepted to benefit the AHCC’s Crisis Food Support Program.
Third Annual Connecticut Poetry Party
35 Mountain Road
Farmington, CT 06032
Date: April 14
Kicking off the annual Sunken Garden Poetry season is the third installment of the Connecticut Poetry Party, a time to relish in the rhythm and rhymes of music and spoken word. Poetry readings by previous Sunken Garden Poetry Prize winners will intertwine with the sounds of Irish and Celtic fiddler Jeanne Freeman and the Irish voice of Dan Ringrose. It’s a time to celebrate National Poetry Month and welcome spring with shared prose, poetry and potluck, as well as a book swap. Admission is free.
Alice Notley, Poetry Reading
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Yale)
121 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511
Date: April 18
Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, Alice Notley returns to her homeland from Paris, France for a reading at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Notley was a prominent New York-based poet from 1976-1992 and has published over 25 books of poetry over the years. She brings a fresh, stream-of-conscious style to poetry, including mind-frolicking subject changes.
Related: Top Books About Connecticut
Edward Main is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.