March 23, 2017

#05-021: Month-Long April Observances

murky etching of a house with lighted windows behind a copse on a dark moor with a full moon overhead
Locksley Hall, inspiration for a line about love in the springtime

Note: It's spring! Write a poem, listen to some jazz, donate your organs, or volunteer!

Get Ready: Have you ever written any poetry? Are you good at it? (Share some in the comments!)

The word "April" is of uncertain origin. One possibility is that it comes from a Latin word meaning "to open," because this is the month when the flowers start to open. Another is that it was Aphrilis, sacred to Aphrodite (the Romans' Venus), the Goddess of Love.

These two associations bring to mind the words of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who wrote in his 1842 "Locksley Hall": "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

Appropriately, among the many other month-long observances, April is National Poetry Month in the U.S. (one thinks of all the doggerel that April weather must have inspired!) which includes the similarly-named "National Poetry Writing Month." Budding Byrons and wannabe Wordsworths are encouraged to write one poem every day of the month. Since 2009, the American Academy of Poets has tied this to their annual fundraising drive.


Another seemingly Spring-related event is Jazz Appreciation Month, when the national museum, The Smithsonian, promotes this originally American art form. Amusingly, Jazz Appreciation Month goes by the initials "JAM"; "to jam" is a slang term used by musicians meaning to play music together. The theme of JAM in 2017 (when this was written) is "Women in Jazz," and the featured musician is (naturally) Ella Fitzgerald, often called the "First Lady of Song."


Another worthwhile celebration in April is Donate Life Month sponsored by Donate Life America, an organization which, since 1992, has educated Americans on the issue of donating organs (including eyes) and tissues. Other commonly donated organs include kidneys, hearts, and corneas. These materials may be used for research, but more often they are transplanted into another person.


Finally, April is National Volunteer Month. As the weather warms up and people become more active, it's a good time to get out and help others. Statistics show that in one year, more than 64 million Americans volunteered at least once, totaling 8.1 billion hours. The time and expertise donated was valued at $173 billion!


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. budding
  2. Byron and Wordsworth
  3. corneas
  4. doggerel
  5. drive
  6. expertise
  7. fancy
  8. tissues
  9. valued (at)
  10. wannabe

  1. worth
  2. developing
  3. more complex than cells, less than organs
  4. verse so bad it makes people laugh
  5. the transparent covering of the eye
  6. two outstanding English poets, used here as examples
  7. a campaign; efforts toward a goal
  8. imagination
  9. knowledge or skill
  10. a person who desires to be something

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 23, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. f; 3. e; 4. d; 5. g; 6. i; 7. h; 8. c; 9. a; 10. j