Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy National Poetry Month!

We are eleven days into National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.  The purpose of the celebration, in a nutshell, is to celebrate poetry's place in our lives, and to help ensure that its legacy continues.

Is poetry important? I would say that it is not only important, but necessary. Not only that, I believe that it is organic--poetry won't ever "go away," because it comes from inside and pours out of us. There are many who call themselves "poets," but I would argue that in some shape or form, we are ALL poets. In his speech "Tide of Voices--Why Poetry Matter Now," poet Mark Doty asserts that poetry is "a way to speak. A way to be heard." I recommend reading his entire speech--it is poetry in itself and gives a great explanation as to why poetry matters today more than ever. The talk can be found here:

I myself love to write poetry. My poems sometimes rhyme, but usually do not. I don't have any form for them, although if one were to analyze them, maybe in 100 years in some high-school literature class, form may be found.  But mostly, the words bubble up and I write them down. I don't edit them much, and I've learned not to ask for critiques because when people suggest I change the words, it chafes at my poetic sensibilities as if my muse is offended that her offerings were not accepted. For that reason, I'm not sure if my poetry is meant for anyone's consumption other than my own, as a way for me to understand myself.  At any rate, for me, poetry happens more than anything.

One of my ANWA colleagues, Stephanie Abney, does a whole month of poetry on her blog, Stephanie Says So. She posts a daily tutorial on a different form of poetry and her own offerings in that form, and then invites her readers to try it out and put their poems in the comments. I've learned tons about poetry that I never even knew I didn't know.

So how can you celebrate National Poetry Month? The Academy of American Poets posts the following list of 30 suggestions on their website,

30 ways to celebrate national poetry month

  1. Order a free National Poetry Month poster and display it at work or school.
  2. Sign up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.
  3. Deepen your daily experience by reading Edward Hirsch’s essay “How to Read a Poem.”
  4. Memorize a poem.
  5. Create an anthology of your favorite poems on
  6. Encourage a young person to participate in the Dear Poetproject.
  7. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore.
  8. Review these concrete examples of how poetry matters in the United States today.
  9. Learn more about poets and poetry events in your state.
  10. Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry Month.
  11. Attend a poetry reading at a local university, bookstore, cafe, or library.
  12. Read a poem at an open mic. It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local poetry writing community.
  13. Start a poetry reading group.
  14. Write an exquisite corpse poem with friends.
  15. Chalk a poem on the sidewalk.
  16. Write a letter to a poet thanking them for their work.
  17. Ask the United States Post Office to issue more stampscelebrating poets.
  18. Recreate a poet’s favorite food or drink by following his or her recipe.
  19. Read about different poetic forms.
  20. Read about poems titled “poem.”
  21. Read the first chapter of Muriel Rukeyer’s inspiring book,The Life of Poetry.
  22. Subscribe to American Poets magazine or a small press poetry journal.
  23. Watch Rachel Eliza Griffiths' latest Poets on Poetry video.
  24. Watch or read Carolyn Forche’s talk “Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness.”
  25. Read or listen to Mark Doty’s talk “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now.”
  26. Read Allen Ginsberg’s classic essay about Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
  27. Watch a poetry movie.
  28. Sign up for a poetry class or workshop.
  29. Get ready for Mother’s Day by making a card featuring aline of poetry.
  30. Celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2015. The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with coworkers, family, and friends.
Here's my own little poetic offering today to close: 

Go out and celebrate
'Tis a short thirty days
To honor the words
that pour forth, that draw out
the sighs, the laughter, the tears
That bring understanding 
That link us all in our
fumbling humanity.

1 comment:

  1. I like poetry, well some I like, some I don't get and some I just don't like



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