Each year, April is a month-long celebration of poetry in all its forms. At Byrd’s Books, we celebrate with a brand-new poetry display, featuring poets and poetry of all types and styles. We even have the opportunity to feature several Connecticut and Bethel poets! Check out some of our highlights here.
Faster Than Light by Marilyn Nelson, a Connecticut author
Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson s new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African American individuals and communities, and The Cachoeira Tales, a long riff on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Poems include the stories of historical figures like Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy lynched in 1955, and the inhabitants of Seneca Village, an African American community razed in 1857 for the creation of Central Park. Bivouac in a Storm tells the story of a group of young soldiers, later to become known as the Tuskegee Airmen, as they trained near Biloxi, Mississippi, “marching in summer heat / thick as blackstrap molasses, under trees / haunted by whippings.” Later pieces range from the poet’s travels in Africa, Europe, and Polynesia, to poems written in collaboration with Father Jacques de Foiard Brown, a former Benedictine monk who becomes the subject of Nelson’s playful fictional fantasy sequence, Adventure-Monk! Both personal and historical, these poems are grounded in quotidian detail but reach toward spiritual and moral truths.
I, Too, Am America, with poetry by Langston Hughes and illustrations by Bryan Collier
Winner of the Coretta Scott King illustrator award, I, Too, Am America blends the poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality.
“I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.”
Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic call for equality still rings true today. Beautiful paintings from Barack Obama illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of the poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences.
Fragments of Memory by Dr. Phillip K. Lu, a Bethel poet
Dr. Phillip K. Lu is a former professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Western Connecticut State University. Now retired and living in Bethel, CT, Dr. Lu is a poet who has recently published his third volume of bilingual Chinese-English poetry.
An excerpt from Dr. Lu’s preface to Fragments of Memory:
“I have no illusion in my life, only reality…I consider [writing] a way to create a new space and vista for me to explore and capture all intangible reflections of my youth. While I have my limitations, my experiences, my struggles, and my sufferings throughout my life have shaped me into what I am today.”
Please stop by Byrd’s Books to check out the rest of the National Poetry Month selection. And, as always, we will be happy to order any book you can’t find in our store!