Becoming the Living Poet

May Is An Eventful Month

Posted on: May 5, 2009

So much is going on this month and I feel compelled to document it. Since I don’t have time to write a separate post for each thing that’s happening I’m just going to give a quick rundown with links for further information.

May is National Short Story Month?

It’s not official yet, but the momentum is building.

In my previous post about the Top 5 Most Over-Read Poets, I hinted that I have mixed feelings about National Poetry Month. As a total aside, comically enough, writing that post left me thinking in Walt Whitman quotes for days and jonesing for the leisure to sit down and reread Leaves of Grass, even though I contended that Walt Whitman was over-read (he is, but he’s also awesome).

If I sound cynical sometimes when I talk about National Poetry Month, it’s only because I can’t help but notice that there’s something deeply problematic about taking something important – say women’s history, black history, breast cancer, take your pick – and giving people the impression that if they think about it for one month out of the year they’re off the hook. Plus, since creating a month long celebration of something is essentially a glorified PR move, whatever gets featured during the month does tend to be incredibly sanitized in order to maximize its appeal to the general population. That said I recognize that officially declaring a month long celebration is a highly effective method for introducing a topic into the national collective consciousness.

Despite it’s problems, I think National Poetry Month has helped initiate many people into a lifelong love of poetry. I also think that a National Short Story Month could do the same for the short story, which has become a less respected, and therefore harder to publish form.

Speaking of month long celebrations. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Over at Feminist Review, a book review blog I read, they’re holding a contest to give away five free books by authors of Asian heritage. To enter leave a comment describing your favorite book by an author of Asian heritage. Mine is Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston. I read it in high school and it had a dramatic effect on the way I viewed familial duty and the task of writing from experience.

One way or another it’s going to be a very exciting month for the LGBT rights movement.

The California Supreme Court could announce their ruling on Prop 8 – the amendment that banned same sex marriage in California – any day now. The firm deadline for a decision is June 3rd and the L.A. Times says the announcement is going to be made this Thursday.

San Diego has a Day of Decision gathering planned out and ready to launch on less than 24 hour notice. There’s also a gathering planned called Meet in the Middle that asks LGBT rights activists and allies to meet at Fresno’s city hall at 1pm on the day the decision comes down because Fresno is located in pretty much the exact middle of California. Will it be a protest or a block party? Only time will tell.

I tend to get a little California-centric when I think about the LGBT rights movement, but there’s a ton going on right now in other states and also nationally.

Just today Maine’s House of Representatives passed a bill to approve same sex marriage. It still has to be approved by the Senate, but early indications look good. Last week a similar same sex marriage bill passed through New Hampshire’s House and Senate, though a few revisions made by the senate still need to be approved by the New Hampshire House of Representatives, so the approval is apparently preliminary. If Maine and New Hampshire stay the course, that will bring the count of states that recognize marriage equality for couples regardless of sex or gender up to 6 – the current states that recognize the freedom to marry are Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

The U.S. House just approved and sent to the senate a bill that would extend the hate crime classification to crimes committed because of the victims sexual orientation, gender identity, mental disability, or physical disability. This is also good news for the disability rights movement (which I seriously need to learn more about because I’ve only read a handful of blog articles).

I’m starting to think that within my lifetime we might see homophobic discrimination in the United States go the way of segregation and legal discrimination against women – in might still happen but at least the law will no longer condone it. That’s very exciting indeed!

Today is Cinco De Mayo, which I totally forgot about until I started thinking in terms of holidays. The always helpful Wikipedia informed me that Cinco De Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day like many Americans falsely believe (not just me, but I still feel sheepish). That’s on September 16th. Cinco De Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. According to Wikipedia Cinco De Mayo is much more popular as a celebration of Mexican cultural heritage in the United States, than it is as a historical holiday in Mexico. Apparently in Mexico it’s not even a federal holiday. Now I don’t feel so bad about only associating the holiday with margaritas and sombreros. Yum…. margaritas…. I probably won’t have time tonight to indulge. Le sigh.

This Sunday (May 10th) is Mother’s Day, which is totally freaking me out because I feel like I should do something more exciting than sending a card, but if I keep agonizing over what exciting thing I’m going to send then I won’t even send that. So I think I’m going to send a couple of cards (mom and grand-mom), make a couple of ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ phone calls, and be done with it. Last year I sent flowers to both my mom and my grandma, but money wasn’t nearly so tight.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but I feel like everyone who reads this blog is pretty darn mental health aware. If your mental health is such that you feel you can do more this year than simply be aware (honestly, I’m way too stressed out right now), now would be a good time to get involved in mental health advocacy.

And of course, May 25th is Towel Day. As if I even needed to mention it, I’m sure all of you knew that, right? Honestly, I have never once participated in Towel Day. To participate you have to carry a towel with you wherever you go as per the instructions in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to honor its author, Douglas Adams. Carrying towels when I’m not going to the beach makes me feel really silly in the non-fun sense of the word, but this year I’ll think about it. I’ll think about it really hard.


2 Responses to "May Is An Eventful Month"

Nice blog about book reviews.

I think having a national short story month is a great idea. Anything we can do to encourage people to write and express themselves creatively has to be positive…

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