Celebrating National Poetry Month 2017 with Cats

I’m going to let the cat out of the bag…I’m a crazy-cat-lady! I love all creatures, but I have a particular fondness for cats. As it turns out, I’m in good company. Many famous writers and poets have a cat obsession. Check it out here.

Renowned poet T.S. Eliot wrote this book:

One of the poems in this book is called “The Naming of Cats” which can be heard in T.S. Eliot’s own voice in this video:

I love this poem because it’s so true…the naming of cats IS a difficult matter! We have three cats, and naming them prompted some very heated debates in our household.

When cat #3 became a welcome addition to our family, she remained nameless for days. I had been spending a lot of my time at the hospital with my sister, and to cheer her up I would show her (and the very interested hospital staff) pictures and videos of our new little one.

One day while I was at the hospital, my sister was feeling cold, so the nurses brought her warm saline bags to place around her body. They gave her one bag to hold as if it were a baby. We joked and said that she should give her new baby a name. Written across the saline bag was the pharmaceutical company’s name, BAXTER. My sister read the name out loud, then turned to me and pleaded that we name our new kitten Baxter. I went home and told my husband and daughters the story, and they loved it!

Meet Baxter!

baxter

My daughter Layla playing peekaboo with Baxter

And of course, like so many poets, I sometimes write about cats. This poem, “Her name is Jack,” is about the very first cat we took in.

her name is jack

Meet Jack!

jack.jpg

This is Jack helping my daughter Jordana do her homework.

Jaguar is our middle cat, and like typical middle children, he needs an entire blog post dedicated to just him!

jaguar.jpg

Jaguar styles his own shots. I swear.

Even when poems are not directly written about cats, many poets use cat metaphors. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”  T.S. Eliot uses feline imagery to describe this yellow fog:

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
Cats and Poetry seem to go hand in hand, and maybe that’s worth exploring a little deeper. At the beginning of my post I referred to myself as the “crazy“-cat-lady, but as tongue-in-cheek as that may be, perhaps there are some answers here to understanding the creative process. After all, mental illness also seems to go hand in hand with poets. Cats-Depression-Poets, a trilogy worth unfolding. Another time…
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