J O E L L E
H E R R
A Long Way Down the Holiday Road
elcome to National Celery Month, Easties. Seriously, it’s a thing. You may have noticed that we live in a time when every month, week, and day is a “holiday.” I’m talking about the untraditional, unofficial ones that you don’t have off from work. A few I’ll admit to having celebrated to varying degrees (if meme posting counts) are: National Grammar Day (March 4), National Introvert’s Week (the third week in March), and of course, Women’s History Month (all of March). Don’t get me started on all of the food holidays that are out there, though. For one, I worked on a book about them back in my days as an editor — trust me, there are a lot. And while I certainly can get behind the likes of National Pie for Breakfast Day (in November), thankfully, many of these new-fangled holidays are of the bookish variety (i.e. right up my alley), including some coming up soon. For instance: April is National Poetry Month. If merely reading the word “poetry” just sent a shiver of intimidation and/or aversion down your spine, it’s time to hit refresh on your view of this millennia-old genre. Poetry is actually kind of cool these days — and not just cool but popular. According to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts (as reported by Publishers Weekly), 11.7 percent of adults said they read poetry in 2017, up from 6.7 percent in 2012. That’s a big jump, likely fueled by the rise of so-called Instagram poets, such as Rupi Kaur, whose two collections (Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers) have sold lots — millions — of copies worldwide. Sure, some poetry purists/scholars turn their noses up at Kaur for her lack of formality (or formal training), but if she’s getting more people reading, then that’s a good thing in my book (ba-dum-tss). Plus — and I’ve witnessed this firsthand in the shop — Kaur’s works have served for
many as a kind of gateway-poetry drug to exploring other poets, including Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Mary Oliver, whose recent passing has prompted the reappearance of her books on several bestseller lists. And reading Oliver’s works is definitely a good thing. Also coming up is National Library Week (April 7 to 13), which is intended to “celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians, and to promote library use and support.” I always chuckle a bit when folks in the shop take a hushed tone or apologize when they bring up checking books out of the library. They think that there’s some sort of turf war over books, and surely a bookstore owner must be anti-libraries. Hardly! Some of my fondest childhood memories are of trips to the public library out in Franklin, where I grew up — particularly back in the day, when it was located in a creaky-floored, 19th century home on Fifth Avenue North. That was last century (and another county), though. These days, we’re lucky to have access to the outstanding Nashville Public Library system, which was honored as Library of the Year by Library Journal in 2017. With its offerings of technology access, puppet shows, continuing education, and, of course, books, the NPL is an invaluable resource for folks of all ages, and I look forward fêting it in April. Finally, there’s the unofficial holiday that is nearest and dearest to my own bookish heart: Independent Bookstore Day. Held on the last Saturday of April (which is the 27th this year), IBD is a nation-wide party celebrating all of the good that bookstores bring to their communities. On offer at participating stores will be exclusive merchandise, like signed books, totes, pins, and more. There will also be giveaways and raffles. So, booklovers, you’re in, right? Mark your calendars and get ready to join the celebration at your → nearest, favorite indie.
“One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear.” — Mary Oliver
March | April 2019 theeastnashvillian.com