For everyone who is not already aware, April is National Poetry Month. This celebratory month was inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to formally commemorate the art of poetry, the written legacy of our American poet forefathers, and the dedication and achievement of living poets today. With the help of various literary organizations, educational leaders, sponsors, publishing houses, and, of course, poets, the Academy of American Poets has made a tremendous effort to not only keep our poetic heritage relevant but to make poetry more accessible than ever to poets all across the country of all skill levels.
The Academy created this special month with specific goals in mind:
• To get more Americans involved in the pleasures of reading poetry
• To make poetry a more important part of school curriculum
• To find new, innovative ways of bringing poetry and poets to the public
• To increase publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
Yes, poetry is something we live and breathe nearly every day of lives and should enjoy all year long, but National Poetry Month is very much about sharing and gives us the perfect opportunity to do something more pro-active outside of our own personal craft. One way the Academy accomplishes a couple of these goals is by organizing special events around the country, including the “10 years / 10 Cities” reading series and their star-studded annual “Poetry & The Creative Mind.” For more information on these events, go to Poets.org.
The Academy is also very supportive of schools and libraries, providing free NPM posters every year as well as free lesson plans, tip sheets, curriculum guides, and book displays. Therefore, one way to become involved is to volunteer at a local school or library where you could read poetry to children, organize a poetry reading and/or contest to get adolescents excited about poetry, or organize an open mic event for adults. Other ways to celebrate and become reinvigorated is to treat yourself to a poetry class or a couple new books of poetry from the bookstore. Or if you’re looking for something a little more ongoing and interactive, get a group of friends together and start a poetry reading group.
For those of us in seasonal areas who are ready to throw off the winter blanket, open the windows, and break out the flip-flops, April couldn’t be a more appropriate, inspirational month to take out the writing pad and pay homage to Mother Nature and the new, organic life she blesses us with every spring.
To kick off National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets is hosting their annual “Poetry & the Creative Mind” Gala in Washington D.C. on April 5th. This fabulous event welcomes back Meryl Streep as well as other leading artists, actors, musicians, dancers, writers, scholars, and public figures who will be reading their favorite poems. Proceeds from this event are donated to thousands of schools across the nation to aid in purchasing educational materials.
For more ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, visit Poets.org.