In the latest edition of "Village Voice," Boston Public Radio's recurring conversation about how poetry can help us understand the news of the day, poet Richard Blanco shared his favorite poems celebrating Pride Month. He also introduced "Zip Odes," a call to submit poems about your neighborhood (see below for details.)
Blanco shared poems about LGBTQ relationships, including his own poem "Killing Mark." He said the poem "really, in a way, speaks to [the fact] that love is love, and marriage is marriage, and straight folks don't have the corner on dysfunctional relationships."
Blanco also shared a poem by Adrienne Rich, one of America's most prominent lesbian poets. The poem doesn't address LGBTQ themes specifically, but sees the world with a sensitivity that Blanco said is a hallmark of many LGBTQ writers.
"If anything defines LGBT writers, it might be a unique perspective and an empathy for being that underdog, for being the person that is ridiculed, for being the one that's taunted, so there's a certain sensitivity with which we look at the world," he said. "The writing is informed through that, though the subject matter isn't always about that."
Follow along with the poems discussed in this segment, in order:
Introducing "Zip Odes"
We're writing poems inspired by our neighborhoods — or "Zip Odes" — and we want you to join us.
Here's how it works: Every ZipOde is five lines long, and each digit in your own zip code determines how many words you get per line. (However, since so many Massachusetts zip codes begin with zero, we're making an exception: If your zip code begins with zero, then that first line can have 5 words.) For example, if your zip code is 02135 — like our studio in Boston — the first line of your poem would have five words, the second would have two, the third would have one, the fourth would have three, and the fifth would have five:
We look over the Pike
Here is where
Jim and Margery break news
Check out some more inspiration, based on zip codes in southern Florida, here.
"They're describing, honoring, making fun of your own neighborhood in a very haiku-ish way. The idea is also to think about finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary parts of your neighborhood," Blanco explained.
To submit your Zip Ode, email email@example.com with "Zip Odes" in the subject line before July 30. (Please include which town or neighborhood you're writing about.) We'll read our favorites on the air next time Richard Blanco joins us.
Richard Blanco is the nation's fifth inaugural poet and the author, most recently, of the book "Boundaries."