Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Poetry and Main Street

This is national poetry month -- you can sign up to get a poem-a-day in your email. In the meantime, I want to stake a claim for the relationship between Main Street and Poetry. I've been researching Main Streets for a long time now and I've only just figured this out -- but how cool that I'm just in time for National Poetry Month! While there are poets from Walt Whitman to Michael Lally that I could cite to prove my point, I just came across this poem from Edgar Lee Masters' The New Spoon River and I think it is right on point. Main Streets are full of signs -- signs from today, signs from yesterday, signs on bulletin boards, signs in store windows, signs in graffiti, signs in chalk -- advice, ads, personals -- the density of communication on Main Street is testimony to what Main Street is all about.  Ahh, but what does it mean?  Is all just shouting?  That's where poetry comes in!  Thanks, Poets, for helping us get the meaning, the soul, the frivolity and the sublime.

Max the Sign Painter
Edgar Lee Masters

When Spoon River became a ganglion
For the monster brain Chicago
These were the signs I painted, which showed
What ruled America:
Vote for Patrick Kelly and save taxes;
I am for men, and this is the cigar;
This generation shall not see death,
Hear Pastor Valentine;
Eat Healthina and live;
Chew Floss's gum and keep your teeth;
Twenty-five dollars for a complete funeral;
Insure your life;
Three per cent, for your money;
Come to the automat.
And if there is any evidence
Of a civilization better,
I'd like to see the signs.

1 comment:

Lally said...

honored to be mentioned Mindy, but mostly wanted to say what a great choice (the Masters poem) for a poetry/main street connection...