Did you know that the United Nations has officially recognized April as Poetry Month? It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the beauty and power of language and honor the poets who have enriched our lives with their words.

National Poetry Month is a special event that was launched in April 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. The purpose of this occasion is to honor poets and to acknowledge the important role they play in our culture. It is a celebration of the fact that poetry is an important part of our lives. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world. Tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary event curators, publishers, families, and, of course, poets participate in this event to appreciate the significance of poetry in our daily lives.

ASYVC is proud to share two remarkable poems from two of our esteemed professors, Mark Fuzie, who teaches English, and Luis Bello Zarallo, who teaches Spanish at Yakima Valley College. Their insights on writing poetry are truly inspiring and we’re excited to feature their work in this blog.

Mark Fuzie says, “For me, poems, literature really, are about compassion, that particularly human ability to imagine the existence of others and become humble—at least that’s what I think healthy humans strive for.”  Fuzie continues saying, “The poem Ukrainian Children in Underground Schools is really a kind of consideration of children taking their schooling underground during a war from a news story and my association with my grandparents’ life underground – I really did meet them in their underground apartment in New York; grandpa really was a coal miner; but their whole lives underground…that’s where the metaphor begins to work. Put that with the freedom the persona has of going up and down the stairs, but all in service of alleviating pain, and the dogs following and all the noise, and the whole thing vibrates for me.”

That was so deep. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the art of poetry and all that it brings to our world!

Ukrainian Children in Underground Schools (from NPR)

By Mark Fuzie

Yesterday my wife croaked her pain in the 
Upstairs bedroom. So I went up and down 
The stairs, medicine, water, the candy she likes, 
Dinner – a pattie, potato crisps – the  
House was alive with food smells and ticking 
Noise of the dog’s feet on wood and faux 
Wood floors as they followed me 
Up and down the stairs, standing on the landing 
To see if I was really going up, really going down. 
My Grandfather lived his whole life underground. 
A Hungarian refugee, he dug coal mines,  
Next, basement apartment Super in NYC buildings.  
Stephen and Anna spoke to my father, 
My uncles, in their home language.  
Dad spoke back to them in English.  
Everything about them underground. 
In Ukraine, children attend underground school –  
Lessons on tunnel construction, bombs designed 
To explode after tunneling down, heavy bombs. 
They’re clever those bomb makers. Get under 
Earth’s skin. Explode like pox. All for sale…like potatoes. 
What’s the math you learn from bomb economics? 
The market is up. Sometimes war does that. 
Snow has started falling. For my neighbors’ sake 
I fill all the feeders. My wife is up. 
She calls down the stairs 
I carry up the towels. 
The dogs follow. They’d follow 
Even through underground shelters. 

Luis Bello Zarallo is a Spanish professor at Yakima Valley College. He says, “I wrote poetry to express emotions, to capture beauty, joy, and passion, but also to talk about pain and reflect on what unites us as human beings, that connection and intimacy that we feel when we realize that we are not alone.”  Have you ever wondered what inspires you to write a poem? Luis Bello continues by saying, “I wrote the poem AMISTAD to talk about a fundamental part of the human experience, to express feelings of affection, loyalty, trust, and gratitude. It is a way to honor those people who share our journey and accompany us in our best and worst moments.”

By Luis Bello Zarallo

Amistad sincera precipitada de un cielo glorificado,
acercamiento de esencia de entendimiento mutuo
Instantes de eternidad que ningún reloj acorta
soberbios, arrebatadores hasta utópicos
Mañana, ayer, hoy,… sin orden
Aprendizaje sin fidelidad, felicidad sin merecimiento,
tristezas trabajadas, soledad derrotada
¿Amista? ¡Amistad! ¿o no?
Pensamientos clasificados en desorden alfabético
Pasiones de ruptura y adhesión constantes, ilimitadas
Abrazos de contigüidad, abrazos remotos
Amor persistente con tintes de caos poético
Seres laureados con esencia de vida mutua
Maravillas ensayadas con errores de enseñanza
Su ausencia voluntaria inmola la vida.
¡Amistad y mil veces AMISTAD!

If you want to learn more about poetry and would you like to ge tinto creativiy activities the

Academy of American Poets has for you.

By Yadira Chavez, ASYVC President.