10 Poems To Celebrate National Poetry Month

10 Poems To Celebrate National Poetry Month

An homage to some of my favorite poets.
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Poetry is one of my favorite forms of art besides painting. As it happens, April is National Poetry Month. I fondly recall my memories from elementary school when my homeroom teacher would make us carry a poem in our pocket every day until the end of April and that practice led to my love for poetry. So I thought I'd share some lines from my favorite poets.

1. "Hope" by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all.

This one is probably one of Dickinson's most renowned poems. For someone who spent a majority of her adult life as a recluse, it's insane that she still had the capability to write something so positive.

2. "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

This was, in fact, the first poem that I ever fell in love with in my elementary school years and then one I carried to every "A-Poem-In-My-Pocket" event. I guess there's just something about realizing that every journey happens for a reason and shapes you into the person you are. It does indeed make all the difference.

3. "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I have this one pinned above my desk. I don't know what it is about those words that just make me more productive.

4. Unnamed Poem by Rumi

Out beyond ideas

of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

There's literally one piece of advice that I usually follow when I find myself in an argument: trailing beyond ideas and practicality and viewing the situation from a common ground can definitely help you understand the other side of the story. That's basically what Rumi encourages. Heck if everyone followed this we would achieve world peace but alas the world is not that simple.

5. "Come, Come Whoever You Are" by Rumi

Come, Come whoever you are,

Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving,

It doesn’t matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times.

Come, yet again, come, come.

The message of this poem is rather simple too: everyone is welcome despite their mistakes and differences. This leads to a better chance for humanity to prosper. A chance at oneness is always something that resonates in Rumi's words, which is why I love him so much.

6. "I Am From There" by Mahmoud Darwish

I am from there. I am from here. I am not

there and I am not here. I have two names,

which meet and part, and I have two

languages. I forget which of them I dream in.

If you're bilingual you've probably been asked this question: "What language do you think in?" I seriously don't know the answer to that, but apparently, neither does Darwish.

7. "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueback cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I love this one because it definitely speaks volumes as to what our fathers (or even mothers who play the roles of a father) do for us. Despite that, for some reason, our generation feels like they are obligated to be served like that. No. You are not.

Be thankful for your family kiddos.

8. Unnamed Poem by Mirza Ghalib

It is difficult to complete every goal easily.

For a man too, to be human is no easy feat.

This one is actually a translation of an Urdu poem by Ghalib. Just as not every task is easily accomplished, it isn't easy for a man to be "human." This is also a perfect example of the current state of the world with the savagery we treat people with.

9. "Awaking in New York" by Maya Angelou

The city

drags itself awake on

subway straps; and

I, an alarm, awake as a

rumor of war,

lie stretching into dawn,

unasked and unheeded.

A perfect picture of a morning in the bustling NYC. Your alarm probably jerks you awake in urgency, forcing you to take part in the city that never sleeps.

10. "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

There you go. The last one is for you. Yes you, reading this from wherever you are. You are your biggest champion. Even then, since humans are made of the same particles, we are equals. Thus, instead of negativity, we should lift each other up with positive vibes only.

Cover Image Credit: andreas160578/ Pixabay

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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