September’s edition of ‘Poetry’ highlights the feelings of fall

The Poetry Foundation has celebrated the written word with its monthly publication since 1912. Founded and based in Chicago, the magazine’s mission is “to print the best contemporary poetry, of any style, genre, or approach.

Founder Harriet Monroe spoke of wanting to carve out a corner for poets that’s become a “large and vibrant ecosystem” in an effort to connect poets to readers. The foundation also conducts events like poetry readings, workshops and lectures. Some of their readings are live streams that you can register for on their website

The Poetry Foundation also partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts to create Poetry Out Loud, a national art program that encourages students to study poetry with a recitation competition aimed at highschool students. The program is meant to help students gain confidence, practice public speaking, and learn about history and literature through poetry. 

This issue beautifully encapsulated the feelings of fall and moving into September.

Their latest edition, September 2023, features work from poets Zakaria Mohammed, Brandon Shimoda, Rachel Mennies and Harryette Mullen. Many of these poems focused on similar themes like love, vulnerability and memory. As mentioned in the editor’s note written by Charif Shanahan, September is a month of beginnings and endings, of looking ahead while also looking back. This is also a prevalent theme throughout the September edition. 

The poem “The Only Ones” by Harryette Mullen is one such poem about beginnings and endings centering the theme of moving forward while being wary of what the future might hold. This is seen in lines like “follow tomorrow, / standing ready to welcome / the improbable.” 

Another poem focusing on the theme of moving forward while looking back is “Hours” by Derrick Austin. The poem speaks about a love in its prime and close to its end with lines like “those faint lines gathered around your smiling eyes / and you saw me” paired with “I won’t see fall or winter from your apartment.”

This edition also includes a remembrance in the introduction for poet and playwright Ntozake Shange, who passed away in 2018. Shange was the second Black woman to have her play performed on broadway. In the midst of the Black Arts Movement, an African-American led art movement from the 60’s and 70’s, Shange wrote poems about the politics of the time. She focused on “collective black liberation rather than the interior individual experience.

A collection of Shange unpublished poems was released this past month in a work titled “Sing a Black Girl’s Song”. 

With the release of this work and the upcoming anniversary of Shange’s death, her work makes a notable appearance in the September edition of “Poetry” with excerpts from works titled “MBJ” and “lost in language & sound / a choreoessay.” 

This issue beautifully encapsulated the feelings of fall and moving into September. The Poetry Foundation releases new editions monthly with their October 2023 issue having just been published. Poetry lovers can sign up for their newsletters, check out the “poem of the day” and can even browse their website for access to their entire collection of poems.

Featured photo courtesy of Thought Catalog, Pexels