For those who missed it, October 17th was National Black Poetry Day, a day where Americans can presumably celebrate their favorite black poets like Phillis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, or Maya Angelou. This is not to be confused with National Poetry Day celebrated on October 1st in the U.K., World Poetry Day on March 21st, or National Poetry Month for all of April.
It would be easy enough to joke about such a day for its obvious virtue signaling and its pitiful attempt to encourage reading poetry, but the joke isn’t funny anymore. Despite the many days and months celebrating poetry, a shrinking number of people ever bother with it. Moreover, while everyone has been laughing at these lame attempts to popularize poetry, it has gradually been dropped from English curricula at all levels. And society is all the worse for it.
Far from being some form of therapy or euphoric experience (thank you very much, Dead Poets Society), reading and writing poetry is actually an intense linguistic discipline. It forces a person to read and reread slowly and actively analyze language. Whereas an informational essay or a short story is meant to be read and understood quickly, a poem is designed to contain multiple levels of meaning that require a much higher degree of circumspection and sensitivity.