On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

In Celebration of Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. Have you been celebrating? This celebration was introduced in 1996, and is organized by the Academy of American Poets. On its website (poets.org), the Academy proclaims that it “is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all 50 states and beyond”. It goes on to that that “[the] organization’s mission is to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry”.

The Academy was founded in 1934 by twenty-three year old Marie Bullock, who also served as the Academy’s president for its first fifty years. Among its many programs, in addition to National Poetry Month, are Poem-a-Day, Teach This Poem (resources for K-12 teachers), American Poets magazine for Academy members, and American Poets Prizes.

As to the special month, the Academy says, “…National Poetry Month reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and — of course — poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives”. The Academy lists some ways that people can join the celebration:

  • sign up for Poem-a-Day (on the Academy’s website);
  • sign up to receive a free National Poetry Month poster, featuring a line by 2021 Presidential Inaugural Poet and 2017 National Youth Poet, Amanda Gorman (also on the Academy’s website);
  • record yourself reading a poem, and share why you chose that work online using the hashtag #NationalPoetryMount;
  • subscribe to the Poem-a-Day podcast (cms.megaphone.fm);
  • check out a book of poetry from your local library;
  • begin your meetings (in-person or virtual) or classes by reading a poem;
  • talk to teachers about Teach This Poem;
  • encourage students to participate in the Dear Poet project;
  • learn about your U.S. and state poet laureate;
  • browse Poems for Kids (on the Academy’s website);
  • buy a book of poetry at your local bookstore;
  • make a poetry playlist;
    browse the glossary of terms (on the Academy’s website) and try your hand at writing a formal poem;
  • organize a poetry reading, open mic, or poetry slam;
  • sign up for a poetry class or workshop;
  • take a walk and write a poem outside;
  • start a poetry reading group or potluck, inviting friends to share poems;
  • read and share poems about the environment in honor of Earth Day (April 22);
  • read essays about poetry;
  • watch a movie, lecture, or video featuring a poet;
  • attend Poetry & the Creative Mind on April 28, 2022 — a free virtual reading of favorite poems in celebration of National Poetry Month; and/or,
  • share a poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 29, 2022, on social media using the hashtag #Pocket Poem.

“Haiku Haiku” — a poem by Paul Guffin

A haiku, they say,
Is composed a certain way
Anyone can play

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