April is National Poetry Month and National Financial Literacy Month, too. If you knew about the one, you probably didn’t know about the other, so we’re spreading the word about these national observances.
National Poetry Month was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. It’s relatively well established, kept alive and vigorous by booksellers, publishers, libraries, schools and poets. According to the Academy of American Poets, “Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.” And if you go to the Academy’s website you can find a good list to this year’s programs.
National Financial Literacy Month was born as Financial Literacy for Youth Month in 2000, inaugurated by the The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. In 2003 it received the imprimatur of the US Senate, and in 2004 the Senate dropped the youth part and passed a Resolution naming April as our National Financial Literacy Month. Apparently, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) has become the leading organization to celebrate and promote Financial Literacy Month.
In a spirit of friendly bonhomie I thought it would be good to merge Poetry and Financial Literacy, but it turned out to be rather hard. In fact it’s impossible to find a decent poem about financial literacy. What we did come up with is a poem about money or, to be precise, a song about banks. It’s “The Banks Are Made Of Marble” by Les Rice. The version here is sung by the long ago The Weavers. It’s got a rousing chorus:
But the banks are made of marble
with a guard at every door
and the vaults are stuffed with silver
that the farmer sweated for.
Unfortunately, though you’ll hear the Weavers on this video, there are no changing visuals to accompany it. By the way, you’ll hear Pete Seeger singing the first stanzas. It’s a great little song and always comes back during hard times. Take a listen.
Les Rice was a New York State apple farmer and one-time president of the Ulster County chapter of the Farmers Union. He’s remembered widely for this song which was recorded, I believe, on two different albums by Pete Seeger. Not much more about Les Rice is known at large.