Happy National Poetry Month!
This great tradition began in 1996 with The Academy of American Poets. Like Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, National Poetry Month seeks to educate and enlighten students of all walks of life and persuasions through poetry. While many people might remember poetry only from reading Elizabethan sonnets in high school, and maybe some older European poetry in college, the poem is an art form that is alive and well.
As someone with an English Education degree and a deep desire to educate everyone about the beauty of literature, I always celebrate National Poetry Month. Last year I posted a poem a day on my personal Tumblr, and I plan to do so this year as well. There have been posts on here recently about life-changing literature and useful books for vegans, so I bet you’re wondering by now: what does this month have to do with veganism?
Poets are dreamers, and it is no surprise that many poets, authors, and other artists have long embraced thoughtful and progressive lifestyles. This week, we’ll start with none other than the multi-talented poet, singer, and musician, Emilie Autumn.
Emilie Autumn’s music is cabaret with a dark streak, an Edwardian corset laced with black ribbon. It is not unlike Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls, musical underdogs with a beautiful but tough image. The video for her song “Fight Like a Girl” draws influences from 19th century circuses and freak shows, with that kind of evil-moustache-twirling vibe. Only, in this universe, the girls themselves are the attraction.
Emilie Autumn has often conflated women’s rights with animal rights–which always seems to trigger debate in the vegan community. At Peaceful Dumpling, we think this makes sense, considering what it means to treat everyone and every living thing with compassion. Emilie became a vegetarian at age 11 after eating a hamburger. “I couldn’t eat a cow – I couldn’t eat anything that had parents – and I told my mother this,” she says in a 2013 interview with peta2. It might be worth nothing that this is around the same age she left regular school to pursue a career as a violinist. She became vegan later upon learning of the living conditions of dairy animals. She notes that all of the girls in her band are vegetarian, so finding options for all of them while on the road is an absolute must.
The album “Your Sugar Sits Untouched” is a compilation of Autumn reading her own poetry. It is often important to not only read the words on the page, but also hear them, especially as the author intended them to. Her poetry, as well as her musical lyrics, deal with dark themes influenced by her personal life. Many of them are freeform contemporary poetry, but others use the sonnet form that resonates with her Victorian-era cabaret music and stage persona.
“Sonnet I” (from “Homesick Sonnets”)
In times of warmth when love and comfort dear
Have cast their blindless light upon my star,
How is it that I wish to disappear
And find myself again back where you are?
Is it that home is only home with you?
And how then did you earn your house that name
When judged by years it’s relatively new?
My home is not my home just the same.
And so I will be happy as I must
Although without you sugar tastes as dust.
And if her writing tends to be a bit dark for you, well … perhaps this sonnet will make you feel better!
“At what point does a Shakespeare say?”
At what point does a Shakespeare say,
I feel it’s time I write a play,
What subject shall it be today?
A tragedy I’ve done
Lovers twain have been united
Audiences are delighted
No doubt I shall soon be knighted
Royal fame I’ve won
The Queen has come to every show
And, flattering, she feigns to know
A couplet from a verse, also
A refrain from a rhyme
But the ones I aim to pleaseth
Most of all upon my kneeseth
Are the folk who cough and sneezeth
Through my prose sublime
Check back next time for more vegan poets! In the spirit of this holiday, is there a poet or poem in particular who has inspired you or always stayed with you?
Also by Jen: 5 Free, Awesome Vegan Apps
Photo: Emilie Autumn