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Spring brings kittens and puppies and poetry, oh my!

Posted on April 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Susan Goertz

April come she will when streams are ripe and swelled with rain.

–from “April Come She Will” composed by Paul Simon

This time of year the song “April Come She Will” inevitably gets stuck in my head.

If I just shared my earworm with you, then you may want to check out some Simon and Garfunkel (also available on hoopla) to get some spring in your playlist.

My love of animals and poetry started young. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear was an early favorite. Every time a new version comes out, I can’t wait to see it through the eyes of a new illustrator. I also loved A. A. Milne’s Pooh books, especially When We Were Young and Now We Are Six. They may have been my first experience with poems from the perspective of animals. This is such a powerful concept for a young reader—seeing through the eyes of another being. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, illustrated by the incomparable Edward Gorey, is another purrfectly charming poetry book.

We’ve had to be very patient for spring’s arrival. April has arrived with all her sunshine and potential. This year, I learned something new about April. Not only is it National Poetry Month (yay!), it is also Pets are Wonderful Month and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

This inspired me to combine two of my favorite topics, animals and poetry—to celebrate them all—in one blog!

If you are looking for poetry books to tickle your furry funny bone, we have a great selection. Francesco Marciuliano has a delightful series on cats (I Could Pee on This and I Could Pee on This Too) and dogs (I Could Chew on This). The pictures are hilarious.

Spokane is a bit of a hub for poetry. Since 2014, the city has its own Poet Laureate! I would never have thought of that possibility growing up on the west plains. Currently Mark Anderson, a proponent and poetry slam herald is our current Poet Laureate. Both previous Spokane laureates, Thom Caraway and Laura Read, have poetry collections available through the Library District’s catalog. We also have poetry by Tod Marshall and Claudia Castro Luna, the previous and current Washington State Poet Laureates (respectively).

If you want to see some local poetry in action, there are some awesome local poetry slams to check out, or sign up yourself. Our own poet laureate (go Mark Anderson!) started Broken Mic, a free all ages weekly poetry open mic. Broken Mic happens at 6:30pm every Wednesday at Neato Burrito (827 W 1st, Downtown Spokane). With a rotating cast of local poet hosts and some of the best burritos in town you can’t go wrong.

Spokane Poetry Slam team also hosts two events each month with minimal entry fees ($5)—every first Sunday at Boots Bakery and Lounge (24 W Main Ave, Spokane) at 7:30pm and every third Monday at The Bartlett (228 W Sprague Ave, Spokane) at 8pm.

I’m veering away from poetry for a moment, because if you’re like me, you won’t mind giggling over some cute pictures full of furry faces. The Library’s pet humor section is quite extensive.

We have book versions of the internet hits you know and love, such as #WeRateDogs by Matt Nelson and Dog Shaming by Pascal Lemire. We also have some gorgeous coffee table books like Underwater Dogs and Underwater Puppies by Seth Casteel, Shake Cats and Shake (with dogs) by Carli Davidson, Peanut Butter Dogs by Greg Murray, and Zen Dogs by Alex Cearns. If you are up for a truly irreverent animal read try Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris. He may forever change the way you look at your park bench companions.

Truth be told, the book that inspired this blog is Dog Songs: Thirty-five Dog Song and One Essay, by the ever poignant and so dearly missed Mary Oliver. While all 35 poems in Dog Songs are lovely, it is the sole essay in this collection that really reverberates with me. “Ropes” describes the life of a dog who couldn’t be contained, exploring the nature of connection and the fences we build around ourselves. When I read this essay, I’m drawn back in time to when I tried to tame a stray named Jamie. The wild was in her blood and she could never settle down. Yet I know she willingly took on the bounds of captivity to be with me. I was never able to give her as much as she gave me. I’m grateful for every day I had with her. May all our lives be graced by such an open-hearted teacher.

There you have it. Whether you are an animal lover or a poetry lover or a Simon and Garfunkel fan, this lovely little spring assortment of library materials should have you covered. Here’s to enjoying all these library treasures with a furry friend.

Happy spring!

Susan Goertz

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