In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.
We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.
What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.
Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.
And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.
Michael Dowdy shares one of his favorite poems with us today --
If “El Fruto” (The Fruit) is a Garden of Eden poem, in the voice of Eve, it is one in which the Chicano (Mexican-American) poet Juan Felipe Herrera paints that biblical world as strange, sensuous, effervescent, fleshy and feverish, terrible and joyous. But it’s the last line that jabs me in the ribs, for there we fall into our 21st-century predicament, where god isn’t Old Testament or New but a superrich CEO who tempts with the “delicate voice” of dollar bills.
The apple wasn’t our true origin.
The tree, well, it offered its own brand of shade.
The parrot, can you see him? The witness of this account.
We had just come back from the Serpent Café, rebellious.
We had just washed in black light & oyster sauce.
Our fragrance was of sex, lemon rind and coral.
He mentioned the brutalities of the heavens.
I pointed to the blistered boulevards, the musicians
in stoic delight, their gaping violin wounds.
He mentioned the ecstasy beneath his blonde ribs.
I turned away, called my sisters, Tara, Queen of Illusion,
Mayahuel, Goddess of Dark Jazz Nectars. Then
a delicate voice flashed from above, it ripped away
the milk from my lips, the wine from his eyes.
It was King Executive, Demi-god of the New Business.