These days, it seems like so many arbitrary things now have their own “National Day” (or week, or month—National Candied Orange Peel Day*, anyone?), but Poetry Month is a celebration that has been going on for twenty years! Regardless of the duration of its appreciation month, it’s safe to say that poetry has been immeasurably influential throughout human history; even before the invention of writing, people told stories to one another in the form of long, epic poems. Now, candied oranges are pretty great, and chances are they’ve been around for a long time too, but we’re betting that they haven’t had quite the same societal and artistic impact.
It may seem that poetry is much less common these days than it was back when the Bard was around, but that isn’t necessarily true. While we don’t all wait for the latest poem with baited breath, poetry still plays a big part in expression and art in today’s world. But with its loss of mainstream prevalence, there has been something of a loss of education in the poetic field, so to speak. Many students these days aren’t introduced to poetry until middle or high school, and by then, it can be increasingly difficult to “get into it.” So, we at eNotes have done some research into some of the best ways to celebrate this month of poems. Even if we’re getting started halfway through the month, the April celebration of all things poetic need not stop on the 30th; if you like what you’re doing, why not bring the spirit into May?
1. Sign up for a “Poem-a-Day” service
On Poets.org you can take out a subscription and get a free poem delivered straight to your inbox every morning!
2. Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
A big part of what’s daunting about poetry is that a lot of people don’t really understand what it’s about or how to begin writing or appreciating it. Poetry classes are surprisingly common, so look up the public classes in your area and find one that deals with poetry.
3. Explore various forms of poetry
If you’re one of the many people who think that something has to rhyme in order to be a poem, you may want to look into doing a little research! There are so many kinds of poetry, it’s a little crazy. If you want a little limerick, of course there are tons of those, but there are also sonnets, free-verse, haiku, epic… Basically, there are as many types of poems as there are genres of novels—maybe even more.
4. Look into some international poetry
Delving further into the idea of poetry genres, you may find it worth your while to look into some poetry from around the world. Not only will you be introduced to a bunch of new authors you may not have otherwise become acquainted with, but you’ll also discover some unique styles (i.e. the Japanese haiku, or the ancient Persian ghazal).
5. Check out a poetry slam
Let me start by saying that poetry slams are pretty cool; where else can you go and listen to local authors perform their work with some serious passion?
Poetry slams are great opportunities to hear about unique perspectives on social issues (good and bad) in the company of your peers. These slams can get pretty competitive and intense, so if you do go to one, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. In a good way. A good place to start is Button Poetry’s YouTube page and also our poetry slam post with a selection of moving social justice poems.
6. Start a poetry club
If poetry is your thing (either reading it or writing it), why not find others that share that passion? Sharing poetry is hard, especially if it’s a poem that you’ve written yourself; poems share a special piece of your psyche, and opening up on that level isn’t easy. So if you can find some fellow aspiring poets, it may be beneficial to share your work with one another and get a little soul-baring practice in a safe space.
7. Memorize a poem that means something to you
Having some inspirational and/or beautiful words to call upon when you’re feeling blue can be a highly therapeutic tool. It can be a long poem or a short one, but either way, you may find that making a poem with a calming message into a mantra may be a good way to keep you in a happy place, even in the tough times.
8. Set aside some time to write
Chances are that you’re a busy person, and when you’re a busy person, sometimes the last thing you want to do in your free time is, well, more work. But writing doesn’t have to be something you just do for school. If you like poetry, it may be nice to set aside a chunk of time to let your brain do its artsy thing and create something meaningful.
9. Draw a poem
One great thing about art is that so many of its forms can be blended together. For example, how often do you listen to a song and find yourself daydreaming or imagining something awesome? Poetry works to inspire us in much the same way; next time you read a poem, imagine the imagery it creates and give drawing it a try. At the very least, you’ll have a cool piece of art to put on the wall.
10. Think metaphorically
A metaphor is a powerful poetic device that can be defined as a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Metaphors are so common that often we don’t really pay attention to one when we hear it. For the rest of April, keep a list of metaphors you hear day-to-day. It may be fun to look back at the end of the month (or whenever) to see what little expressions people are using these days.
11. Check out TED Talks
Chances are you’re at least familiar with the concept of a TED Talk. If not, TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas and education, usually in the form of short but passionate speeches. Poets and poetry are frequent stars of the TED stage, so if you can’t make it to a slam or are looking for a particular type of poem, check out some TED Talks online or find out if there’s one coming to your area.
12. Download a poetry app
13. Celebrate on Twitter
Post a poem with the hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth to get your work noticed. Also fun: search the hashtag and take a look at poems others have already tweeted.
14. Tune into NPR
This month, NPR‘s “Tell Me More” has some poetically inclined features, including the reading of listener-submitted poetry (another opportunity to share your art with the world, and this way you could be as anonymous as you please).
*In case you were wondering, National Candied Orange Peel Day does actually appear to be a thing, and it falls on May 4th.