National Poetry Month
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, “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. provides 30 Ways to celebrate:

  1. Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day
  2. Take a poem out to lunch
  3. Read a book of poetry
  4. Put a poem on the pavement
  5. Memorize a poem
  6. Recite a poem to family and friends
  7. Revisit a poem
  8. Organize a poetry reading
  9. Put poetry in unexpected places
  10. Promote public support for poetry
  11. Bring a poem to your place of worship
  12. Start a poetry reading group
  13. Attend a poetry reading
  14. Read interviews and literary criticism
  15. Play Exquisite Corpse
  16. Buy a book of poems for your library
  17. Read a poem at an open mic
  18. Start a commonplace book
  19. Support literary organizations
  20. Integrate poetry with technology
  21. Listen on your commute
  22. Ask the Post Office for more poet stamps
  23. Subscribe to a literary magazine
  24. Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
  25. Start a notebook on
  26. Subscribe to free newsletter
  27. Put a poem in a letter
  28. Write a letter to a poet
  29. Watch a poetry movie
  30. 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

Oklahoma Spring

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 suggests as possible. I hope you will, too.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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