The Cruelest Month

Poetry MonthTwenty-One years ago, April was decreed the national month in which we officially celebrate poetry. Therefore, this year, National Poetry Month has reached the national legal drinking age. The poet T.S. Eliot, in “The Waste Land”, asserts that April is the cruelest month. Is this a coincidence? Is April to be regarded concurrently as both a month of celebration and cruelty? Is this poetic? Sounds like an average 21st birthday if I’m being honest. Speaking of celebration, the weekend of April 14th-15th is Khmer New Year, which also heralds the beginning of monsoon season. The term April showers also applies here, a term used to describe the wonderful spring showers that bring bounteous life to the earth. But sometimes these showers bring death. For instance, the titanic sank on April 15th (actually, this was more like a bath) which is considered a historic tragedy. Surely all these events culminate into something poetic. And by poetic I mean looking for meaning where none seemingly exists. Like pulling life out of the dirt.

In all seriousness, I don’t mean to make light of tragedies, but April truly is a month marked by both celebration and cruelty. The Boston Marathon Bombing was on April 15th. The Virginia Tech shooting was on April 16th. The fall of Phnom Penh was on April 17th. All of these tragedies beckon the question: why? Why did they happen? Why did they all happen in April? Does it matter? Surely there’s a pattern here. There must be a greater explanation other than the progression of human suffering. There must be something to say, some way to respond to all of it. Remembrance is one way. Grief is another. Pain is one way. Writing is another. There are never answers though.

Columbine was on April 20th. April 20th is also the day the world comes together and agrees to smoke a lot of weed. 4/20 is also a fifth. This is a trivial amount of alcohol. The fifth month of the year is also May, where we can enjoy all the flowers brought on by April rain. Or April weeping. Depends on how you choose to look at it.

I realize that a lot of this makes little sense. If you couldn’t tell, I’m trying to channel my poetry here (it is the designated month after all). I’m trying to have a lyric moment. Even as the days and seasons come and go every year, there are moments that remain long after they’ve transpired. Why? The same rain will fall every year, the same plants will thaw and grow. Yet, there are tragedies that we decide need to be remembered. There are some events that we feel the need to celebrate every year. These moments are so definitively human, and a lot of them happen to be during April. Perhaps there is something greater to be found here, perhaps not. Either way, happy National Poetry Month.


Cody Kour is 2nd year MFA poetry candidate at Virginia Tech.

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