Today’s post is a special one (and posted outside our normal schedule…the scandal). I have a special guest PM, a spoken word poet. We’re doing a sort of collab guest post breaking down our thoughts of three poems from A Poem for Every Autumn Day, a collection by Allie Esiri.
We’ll be hoping through time a bit with our three choices. One of them all the way into November which doesn’t usually feel like fall around here…but that’s alright.
I would recommend checking the book out for yourself if you’re a fan of poetry.
Take a Poem by James Carter
PM: It may seem contradictory to begin this post with a poem that doesn’t scream fall (or Autumn if you’re a proper British lady like myself) but hear me out. As a poet, and so in simple terms a huge poetry nerd, this poem resonated with me so much. Poetry’s beauty is its ability to make you look at things completely contrarily, to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. When you carry those lines over into the real world, suddenly, that ordinary moment is transformed. And, is the essence of Autumn not transformation? Usually, I’m not a fan of rhyming poems since I feel they can appear slightly whimsical, and I like my poetry full of dense and abstruse language. But I can guarantee I will be taking this poem with me into fall, as I remember another poem along with it, and then end up writing a poem about remembering a poem – the usual cycle of the seasons for a poet.
Bee: This poem is very reminiscent of the rhymes you learn as a child. It gives me a bit of nostalgia of when I was a kid in school, learning the world of the written word. As PM stated, this isn’t much of an autumn poem on the surface, but I also think because it has the same feel of being whisked away into poetry and stories that it is a bit like fall.
Plus since it reminds me so much of my early days in school, fresh faced and ready to take on learning words and such, it does have a bit of an autumnal vibe to me. You know those first few days of school where the air is crisp and your spirits high.
Crab-Apples by Imtiaz Dharker
PM: As a British-Indian woman, I thought this poem was crucial to include, not only to give more voice to perhaps lesser known fellow WOC poets, but to show poetry’s use in de-tangling Western images of seasons like Autumn. When people think of fall, images of pumpkin-spiced lattes and Halloween may come to mind. For me, Diwali comes to mind, the Hindu festival of lights and a lesser known side of the fall season. Think of it like the Hindu version of Christmas; the family gets together, everyone dresses up, we do prayers, there’s fireworks and of course, amazing Indian food and sweets. Even though Dharker is Pakistani and a Muslim, this poem reminded me of my mother making chutney and sweets for our Diwali celebrations, and trying to pull a little bit of the homeland back to our kitchen in London. (Also shout-out to the editor Allie Esiri for including this poem and later in the collection a poem titled ‘Diwali’ – we don’t see a lot of WOC poets or representation of non-Western festivals in the world of commercially marketed poetry, so I am living for it!)
Bee: First I would like to say I absolutely love that these poems come with a bit of a backstory or information to go go with a poem. Because I’m a white American growing up in the Midwest, I don’t know all the cultural significance behind a lot of poems written by BIPOC. Between the information by the anthology of poems and PM, I’ve learned so much…in just a few words.
Short poems like this can give so much impact. It requires boiling down all these feelings into just a few words. Each word matters so much. Might be why short poems are hard for me to write. I’m a bit wordy. But in this poem I feel the homesickness. I moved away from home almost two years ago now and even though I’ve never had green chutney (going to have to try it one day), I understand the significance of something that reminds you of home. My green chutney would be an apple tart. That reminds me the most of home.
I also like seeing women excel in any part of the arts, especially seeing the perspective of women of color. Any perspective different than mine I can’t wait to read.
No! by Thomas Hood
PM: Now, if you’re anything like me, you may remember an English lesson where you were forced to read a poem from the nineteenth century and lost the plot after the first line. Why were there so many words? Why were they so long? Why can’t I understand it! Cue this poem – my opinion of nineteenth century poets have been transformed (that’s right, it’s the Autumn effect). This poem is hilariously crafted, almost choreographed, like a wonderful, grouchy dance, leading to the disappointing final act of the month that is nearly Christmas, but not yet. I can picture myself walking in a garden as the sun sets at 3pm, reciting this poem, pointing at a tree going ‘No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!’ in November. But truly, it is incredible how two centuries later this poem speaks to my summer-baby soul.
Bee: I love PM went with the history and understanding of poetry behind this and for me this poem just shouts same.
I adore fall. I love the changing of colors, the crispness in the air. I love that we have campfires and spooky stories. Halloween is kinda my jam. But I live in a state where it can snow from October until May. Sometimes we get snow in June. It’s terrible. So our falls tend to be cut short. November is our “pre-winter.” I can also see myself shouting this on November first, as snow beings to fall and all the beautiful colors get bathed in white. My favorite season cut short. Everything ruined. No sun! No moon! Ughhh.
I might say this one is my favorite because it genuinely made me laugh. I read it like a dramatic six year old unable to play on a rainy day. It’s delightful.
Thanks for the Collab!
I had so much fun collabing with PM. She got the ball rolling on this so I definitely can’t take any credit. If you liked hearing from her too, don’t worry. We’ll be doing some more stuff in the future.
Let us know in the comments below your opinions on these poems and if you’ll pick up the collection. It’s available now for purchase. I found it on Amazon but I’m sure you can also find it at a local book store near you.
PM is British-Indian, queer, spoken word poet, who will literally write about anything. If you’ve breathed around her, chances are you’re in a poem and she’s performed it already. Currently, she’s hosting AQ Arts London’s Instagram bi-weekly show Shout: Live, working on her first ever audiobook and trying to make poetry her full-time side-hustle (yep, it makes sense). If she’s not doing that, you’ll find her crying over all the anime, book and video-game characters she’s become far too invested in.
Don’t forget to check out her website. And let us know your favorite fall poem below!