In New York, you don't have to hear the tweeting birds of Central Park to know Spring has sprung. The first of every April brings another sound, just as predictably uplifting, a few blocks away at the Lincoln Center. I'm talking about the Academy of American Poets' annual event celebrating National Poetry Month, called "Poetry & The Creative Mind". Last night was the sixth annual turn-out of creative notables including: gossip-queen Liz Smith, film director Jonathan Demme, biographer Robert Caro, Vanity Fair editorial honcho Graydon Carter, and poet Yusef Komunyakaa.
Katie Couric recited her daughter's favorite poem and an extremely poignant one by Emily Dickenson about grief. Author Candace Bushnell stopped channeling her fictional creation Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City) long enough to tune in on multiple poems by Gertrude Stein. And jazz singer Dianne Reeves outstandingly performed (and sang parts of) three poems by African-Americans.
Meryl Streep, the annual goddess figure of this event, told the crowd in her introduction that she accidentally got involved with this benefit but now feels that it's her favorite event. And as she does every year, Meryl entranced the audience with her performance. This year it was with the long and difficult poem, Sunday Morning. "Settle in," she said, bracing the audience. Playwright John Guare and Phillipe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, rounded out the evening's readers.
The Academy of American Poets website should, but doesn't yet, list the entire program of this year’s event. Keep checking back for a full list of poems that were read. In the meantime, you can see details of the benefits' programs from past years. Get a daily poem and a jump start on April 17, which is Poem in Your Pocket Day. That should put the Spring in your step!