The hound’s howls alerted me to a package at my doorstep on Wednesday. I added my own howls of joy as I tore open the package’s cardboard wrapper and found a copy of J. Patrick Lewis’ newest National Geographic anthology–The Poetry of US. I’ve only begun dipping my toe in this book, and plan to spend time savoring its many poems (more than 200!) and photographs. The anthology takes the reader on a journey across the United States, sharing the beauty, diversity, and challenges of our country. It’s impossible not to feel a sense of wonder and delight as you flip through the pages, traveling around this complicated country of ours. And for me, it’s a needed antidote to the divisiveness and discouragement of the daily news cycle.
The book begins with poems celebrating symbols of the United States (Joyce Sidman’s “Our Rose” and Steve Withrow’s “Naming the American Eagle” are both a pleasure to read) and continues with new and old poems of what divides and unites us, by Carole Boston Weatherford, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes. Then the book starts its epic geographical journey, beginning in New England, reaching across the Midwest and Great Plains, traveling to the Pacific and beyond to the US Territories. Along the way we learn of history and holidays, festivals and food, wildlife and wild places, and the struggles and triumphs of people who live in towns and cities.
One of the great joys of having a poem in this volume is sharing space with poetry friends, some of whom I’ve met in real life and other who I know online. The members of my online group of poetry encouragers/critiquers all have poems in The Poetry of Us. They’ve generously given me permission to share their poems, which I think give a hint of the span of the anthology.
Pat Lewis asked me to write about the Holland, Michigan tulip festival. Although I live only an hour from Holland, I had not actually visited during the festival. But youtube came to my rescue so I could cyber-attend (and I have since been inspired to go to the festival–twice!)
I hope you’ll check out this terrific anthology that includes poems by many Poetry Friday regulars. Order it online or from your local bookstore, or request it at your library.
Head over to The Opposite of Indifference where anthologizer/poet/all-around-generous human being Tabatha has the roundup for this week’s Poetry Friday blogs (and a poem of Gingko leaves and friendship.)