April 11, 2014
National Poetry Month
Amongst the many celebrations and holidays happening this April is one of my favorites: National Poetry Month. According to Poets.org, “Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.”
April is a time when poets and poetry lovers promote this genre of writing. April was chosen so that the highest amount of participation and celebration could happen. Teachers and librarians advised the Academy of American Poets on this choice, and since its inception, April has helped inspire poets to write more.
The goals of the month include the following:
- Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
- Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
- Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
- Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
- Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
- Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
- Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry
Thus, obviously, the idea is to encourage people to write and read poetry all year round, but in April the focus helps to remind and inspire. This is no different from Black History Month, Native American Month, or Women’s History Month. In these, the goal of the month is to have continued interest and education in said focus. National Poetry Month is the same.
Poets.org provides 30 Ways to celebrate:
- Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day
- Take a poem out to lunch
- Read a book of poetry
- Put a poem on the pavement
- Memorize a poem
- Recite a poem to family and friends
- Revisit a poem
- Organize a poetry reading
- Put poetry in unexpected places
- Promote public support for poetry
- Bring a poem to your place of worship
- Start a poetry reading group
- Attend a poetry reading
- Read interviews and literary criticism
- Play Exquisite Corpse
- Buy a book of poems for your library
- Read a poem at an open mic
- Start a commonplace book
- Support literary organizations
- Integrate poetry with technology
- Listen on your commute
- Ask the Post Office for more poet stamps
- Subscribe to a literary magazine
- Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
- Start a notebook on Poets.org
- Subscribe to Poets.org free newsletter
- Put a poem in a letter
- Write a letter to a poet
- Watch a poetry movie
- Visit a poetry landmark
As part of my effort to celebrate National Poetry Month, I want to post one poem that really touches me as well as one of my very own poems. Now, I should say that I am not a very good poet, but National Poetry Month is not about good poets; it is about promoting, supporting, and loving poetry, and I certainly feel that
Here is a poem by Walt Whitman:
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
A poem about science is most appropriate for bringing poetry awareness to redOrbit readers, right?
Finally, right here on redOrbit, for the first time ever, I will share one of my poems – a haiku – with the public.
Oklahoma Spring, Part 1
calls me through the whirling wind.
Today, I am home.
The Nature focus of this poem seemed a nice fit for redOrbit. This month, I will read poets, write poetry, and generally celebrate National Poetry Month in as many of the 30 ways Poets.org suggests as possible. I hope you will, too.
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