I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating. I love clearly-defined poem requests. I love requests that, when you open the front door, are waiting with their pet allergies, their need for an extra-firm mattress, and their list of dietary restrictions. They are truly my favorite house guests.
The alternative tends to look something like this…
Me: What would you like for dinner? I could make burgers. Or maybe fish? Do you like fish? We could have pancakes and scrambled eggs.
Poem Request: Oh, anything’s fine.
Me: And are you warm enough? I could turn up the thermostat if you’re cold. Or maybe it’s too warm? I could open a window.
Poem Request: Thanks. You decide.
Me: I thought maybe we’d catch a movie after dinner. There’s a romantic comedy playing with Brad Pitt. Or there’s that action thriller with… You know, on second thought, here are your bags. Just go home.
Nope. Give me a list of expectations, and I’m a happy poet. Theme, mood, target age… These are really helpful and make it so much easier to move forward.
National Geographic just released The Poetry of US: More than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States. Anthologized by the wonderful J. Patrick Lewis, it was truly a treat to get to take part in this project. When Lewis first reached out to me, the request was for a poem about Elvis’ Graceland. Can you dig that specific, narrowly-defined request? (And for such a cool topic!) A week or so later, and the request was for a poem about music from the hills. A week after that, a poem about The Country Music Hall of Fame. I was in heaven!
Keep your eyes open for the book. It’s absolutely beautiful, everything you’d expect from a National Geographic publication.