National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month     April is the cruelest month.  (T. S. Eliot) 

Perhaps Eliot’s April chagrin would be lessened a bit today, thanks to the fact that April is now celebrated each year as National Poetry Month.  Originally started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, it has grown into the largest literary celebration in the world.

I was fortunate to develop a love of poetry at a very young age.  Perhaps the most influential person who helped to instill my appreciation for this finely crafted form of creative expression was my third grade teacher, Mr. Lightburn.  At the age of seven, I memorized over a hundred poems and wrote many of my own.  I can still recite the first poem I ever committed to memory, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, and I carry it with me to this day — a treasured gem that springs to mind each winter as I watch the “woods fill up with snow.”

Whether you are new to poetry or a lifelong fan, I encourage you to celebrate National Poetry Month.  There are many ways to express and explore an interest in poetry.  Most schools and libraries offer programs specifically geared towards teaching and learning about poetry this month.  You can check out a book of poetry from the library or buy a collection of poems from your local bookstore or online.  Subscribe to a poetry journal.  It might be fun to attend a poetry reading at your local library or coffee house.  Try writing a poem yourself, or if you are an experienced poet, submit your new poetry for publication, or simply share it with others.

At Poets.org, you can register to have a poem-a-day e-mailed directly to you free of charge during the month of April.  These poems will feature new work that will be published this spring, so it’s a good way to preview some upcoming talent in the world of poetry.  Poets.org also offers a plethora of online poetry resources geared towards adults and children alike, including a National Poetry Map that lists facts about poets from your area as well as information about upcoming poetry events.

April 17 is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  You can join others across the world by jotting down one of your favorite poems to carry with you.

For more information about National Poetry Month, visit the Academy of American Poets website at poets.org.

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