Poets, Poetry, and Film

Poetic expression often thrives in times of upheaval, as a means of mastering hardship and mustering hope. With that in mind, why not have a look at two library-curated collections of films available through hoopla that observe poets and poems doing just that: 2020 APL Poets, Poetry, & Film and 2020 APL Poets, Poetry, & TV? While poetry and film may seem to be unlikely bedfellows, you might well be amazed by how potent their artistic partnership can be!

History, culture, and sociopolitical issues often find expression in the poetic. Documentaries like O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War remind us that the tragedies of war and the consolations of poetry have always coexisted. Certain poets can come to embody historical eras, as is the case with the 12th-century polymath Hildegard von Bingen (Vision) and, more familiarly, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat movement in Howl. Themes of societal trauma and incarceration surface in Voices Beyond The Wall: Twelve Love Poems from The Murder Capital of The World and A Place to Stand.

Not surprisingly, a number of the films we’ve curated live at the intersections of poetry with biography or romance. Get to know the elusive Emily Dickinson in My Letter to the World or the larger-than-life Byron in a biopic starring Jonny Lee Miller. Explore relationships through a poetic lens with the suicidal lovers of Amour Fou or with former lovers awkwardly reunited in The Song of Lunch. Or just curl up and savor the romantic romp through iambic pentameter that is Shakespeare in Love.

This is just a sampling of the poetry-infused film collection available to explore on hoopla–we hope you’ll celebrate National Poetry Month with us there!


Stay Connected Through Poetry

April is National Poetry Month! As we distance ourselves from each other during this difficult time, what better way to keep us connected than with the powerful words of poetry? 

Poets.org is dedicated to providing all there is to know about this wonderful literary celebration. Search the biographies and works of over 3,000 classic and contemporary poets, find virtual poetry readings, explore different poetry activities to do at home, and so much more. Would you like to receive a Poem-a-Day?! Sign up here.

Want more poetry? Check out the titles offered to all ages through Overdrive/The Libby app and hoopla, featuring both classic and contemporary poetry, including the following:

On Overdrive/Libby:

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson 
Devotions by Mary Oliver
Poisoned Apples: Poems for Your, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Shake Loose My Skin by Sonia Sanchez

On hoopla:

101 Great American Poems by American Poetry & Literacy Project
Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith
I Could Pee On This and Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
Live or Die by Anne Sexton

On Overdrive/Libby and hoopla: 

Dante’s Divine Comedy: Inferno by Dante Alighieri
ebook on hoopla and audiobook on Overdrive/Libby

The Road Not Taken and Other Poems by Robert Frost
on Overdrive and hoopla

The Lunatic by Charles Simic
on Overdrive and hoopla

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
on Overdrive and hoopla

Three YA Novels in Verse (And a Bonus Memoir!) to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than, well, by reading poetry? If poetry is your thing (and even if it isn’t!), mix things up this month with some young adult novels in verse. These books combine the best of both worlds: the deeply impactful, engrossing storylines of a novel, with the linguistic lyricism of poetry. Check out a couple of these excellent, quick reads (or listens — all audiobooks here are four hours long or less) to get your poetry fix.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

In this beautiful, award-winning debut novel by acclaimed slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, Xiomara Batista grapples with religion, identity, and all of the complexities of being a teenager through the medium of slam poetry. If you have ever felt unsure or unheard and are looking for your voice, this one’s for you. Give this a listen if you can — Acevedo narrates the audiobook in expert slam poet fashion and it is superb.

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

Bull by David Elliott

David Elliott’s Bull takes on the classic story of Theseus and the Minotaur and twists it into a rowdy, witty, Hamilton-esque myth-in-verse for the modern age. This dark comedy gives an unexpected, behind-the-scenes view of one of Greek mythology’s most infamous monsters and his cohorts. Sass abounds as some of the all-time Greek mythology greats chime in with their lyrical two cents. Ever wondered what it would be like if Poseidon could rap? Wonder no more. Warning for some explicit language, and also a warning for laughing your socks off. 

Available as an ebook on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 

Jason Reynolds began his life as a poet before going on to become an award-winning and prolific middle grade and young adult novelist. Long Way Down is his return to the world of poetry, and it is one heck of a homecoming. This is a dark, dizzying, and often difficult read about teenage gun violence, the lengths we will go to for the people we love, and the ghosts of the past that we just can’t shake. Reynolds narrates the powerful audio version of this book, which is well worth a listen.

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby. 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson’s deeply personal poetic memoir will break your heart — in the best way. She recounts her life, through poetry, and all of the events that were the basis for her modern classic, Speak. It is brave, touching, and raw, and will leave you with a healthy dose of righteous indignation and a little more courage than you came here with. Give a listen to the audiobook, too — it’s really something special to hear the author give voice to her own story. 

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby.

Three Children’s Poetry Books to Sample

Celebrate National Poetry Month with these three books of poems for children! You can access them with your Marblehead library card. If you don’t have a card, find out how to register online.

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

Award-winning verse novel about a year of change. The premise is a school about to be torn down, and the responses in poems from the eighteen kids in one class during the whole of that year.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers

Here are Fred Rogers’ song lyrics from his iconic TV show that work beautifully as illustrated poems. You don’t need music to enjoy these positive messages about children’s feelings.

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky

Pair objects with animals and the result is goofy, fun, whimsical poetry. The fantastical poems are illustrated with found object effects like strange curiosity cabinets.This is available as an audiobook on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

Highlighting Poet Wendell Berry In Celebration of National Poetry Month and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Critics and scholars have acknowledged Wendell Berry as a master of many literary genres, but whether he is writing poetry, fiction, or essays, his message is essentially the same: humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish (The Poetry Foundation).

One good place to find “The Peace of Wild Things” and other poetry by Wendell Berry is in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.
The 100 poems in this collection were chosen by the author, selected from nine collections of his poetry, published between 1957 and 1996. Showing the  development of Berry’s work over a period of four decades, the themes remain consistent — land and nature, family and community, and tradition as the foundation for life and culture. 

The Selected Poems and more than 50 other works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by Berry are available on hoopla, which are available free to Marblehead residents with a library card. If you don’t have a card, find out how you can get one on the FAQ page

Learn more about the history of Earth Day and how the celebration is going digital for 2020.

On the occasion of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, we also recognize the Marblehead Conservancy’s commitment to protect and preserve spaces throughout the town where wild nature can be experienced and enjoyed by all of us.

Share your favorite nature photos on the Abbot Public Library’s Facebook page!