You may be aware that April is National Poetry Month. Most folks know April 18 is Tax Day. But there’s a remarkable day in April that you likely don’t know about and absolutely should: National Bat Appreciation Day!
After a long winter’s nap, many bat species face the world again in April, hence the selection of April 17 for National Bat Appreciation Day.
There are so many reasons to appreciate bats, a day seems hardly enough. But we’re all in luck: Earth Day is April 22 and, seeing as bats are a crucial component of Earth’s ecosystem, it’s definitely okay to keep appreciating the extraordinary bat all month. Or all year.
The internet offers plenty of listicles extolling the virtues of bats (They can live 40 years! They consume their body weight in insects every night!) and skimming through those lists is one way to pause and observe National Bat Appreciation Day. But if you really want to celebrate the wonder of the bat — any of the 1,200 different bat species will do — grab a comfy chair and your favorite beverage because it’s time to do some of the best reading you’ve done in a long time.
As it turns out, many stellar poets and writers have written about bats. Why? Because bats are cool. Bats are just cool. And supremely talented writers are cool, too. Ergo, many supremely talented writers have written about bats. This is good for the writers, good for the bats, and good for us, because we get to read the stuff and care more about the beautiful, bomb-chronic bat.
Here’s a roundup of some truly terrific literature examining the wonder of the bat. Look at that: You’re cooler already.
“In Praise Of Bats,” essay by Diane Ackerman
From “The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales” (1991)
You’ve never considered bats like this before. Ackerman goes deep into caves and looks high into the sky, recording all her observations in prose that makes you all tingly. Example: “I ran a finger over the tiny back, felt the slender bones and the fur soft as chinchilla.” Anyone who describes a bunch of bats as “a cloud of black peppercorns” is just awesome, and the rest of the book is every bit as good as the bat chapter.
“The Bat-Poet,” by Randall Jarrell, illustrations by Maurice Sendak (1964)
Sometimes a book is so wonderful and tender and perfect it makes you want to cry in the best possible way. Jarrell’s book of verse about a little bat who writes (and reflects upon) poems is that kind of book. And with Sendak’s drawings paired with the verse? Fuh-getta-bat-it.
“Bat” by D.H. Lawrence (1923)
Though he does confess he’s grossed out by bats at one point in this gorgeous poem, Lawrence is obviously smitten with bats, calling them “Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together” and describes their wings “like bits of umbrella.” Dude. Totally.
“My Life as a Bat” by Margaret Atwood, from “Good Bones and Simple Murders” (1983)
Atwood is not kidding around here. The piece starts: “In my previous life, I was a bat. If you find previous lives amusing or unlikely, you are not a serious person.” (True.) Atwood speaks of her fear of “entanglements” and her preference for dawn and dusk over the “vulgar blaring hour of high noon” in this haunting, moving-but-dark paean to bats and life.