April showers bring May flowers and a month full of poetry! April was inaugurated as National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. It’s since become the largest literary celebration in the world with poets, schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and countless others celebrating poetry’s legacy and impact on our culture. From attending a poetry reading to simply writing a poem yourself, there are tons of different ways to get involved and show your support.
We’ve come up with ten easy ways in which you can contribute to the celebration. Let’s have a look.
1. Read poetry
We know this seems like a no-brainer, but during National Poetry Month, why not actually read some poetry? If you’re feeling so inspired, maybe try reading a poem a day. From the Internet, local libraries, bookstores, and perhaps even your personal bookshelf there is an abundance of resources to easily obtain in order to read more poetry. Websites like OwlEyes.org, Poets.org, and Poems.com are great places to get your daily poetry fix. You can even sign up for poetry newsletters or a Poem-A-Day email to have poetry delivered directly to you.
2. Write poetry
There’s no denying that writing poetry can seem intimidating. Not all of us possess a natural eloquence like Keats, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the craft. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a curious beginner, the act of writing a poem can be an exciting, creative outlet for expression. If you have no idea where to begin, check out some writing prompts online or trending themes on social media to help get you started. The best part about writing poetry is that there really are no rules, so you have nothing to lose!
3. Attend a poetry reading
Be on the lookout for poetry readings in your area. Whether you have something to share or strictly want to listen, poetry readings can be an inspiring experience rooted in community. While the set and setting will not be the same for all readings, it’s a great opportunity to explore your neighborhood and gain insight into the local poetry scene. If you don’t feel like leaving the house, try streaming poetry radio or watch some videos online. TED Talks and Youtube are practical resources that host a diverse range of poetry readings and performance sure to motivate your inner poet.
4. Host your own poetry reading
Who says you have to go to a poetry reading when you can host your own? Gather a group of willing participants to share some of their personal poetry or recite their favorite works. You can spice things up even more by establishing a theme that encourages people to dress up as their favorite poets or bring a dish associated with the poem they are reading. Reading “Ode to the Onion” dressed as Pablo Neruda could make for a very interesting evening.
5. Utilize social media
There’s no denying that social media is a great way to connect with like-minded people and communities, especially involving the arts. Between Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr there are a plethora of poetry-related accounts that will provide your daily dose. You can also follow the Academy of American Poets on Twitter (@POETSorg) to stay in the loop about National Poetry Month events and campaigns within your area. Social media is also a great way to share your personal poetry or the work of other poets by recirculating their content and promoting it on your personal pages.
6. Chalk a poem on the sidewalk
Forget hopscotch and commit a poem to pavement! In a society where everyone is constantly looking down at their phones, writing a poem on the sidewalk is sure to attract the attention of those passing by. Find a poem or determine a couple of lines that you want to share and then translate it onto a clear piece of sidewalk. Take advantage of different colors and add some artistic flourishes to attract attention to your work. You can even encourage people to contribute to your work and create a public, collaborative piece. The possibilities are endless!
7. Take a poetry workshop
Regardless if you have written poetry before, poetry workshops, conferences, or classes are a great way to tailor your craft and receive constructive criticism about your work. While some poetry may be extremely personal, sharing your words with others can be a beneficial experience. You’ll never know the weight of your words until you share it with someone. Attending a workshop could also provide a great opportunity to meet people who can offer you credible advice and direction. Who knows, you may be a poet and not even know it.
8. Attend a poetry performance
Poetry performances will differ from traditional poetry readings or recitations because they are composed for the sake of the audience. Performance poetry is mostly associated with spoken-word poetry, both acting as umbrella terms for poetry, that is read aloud and usually contains elements of theater or other storytelling forms. Ultimately, these performances aim to entertain audiences and create a participatory culture, sometimes even incorporating aspects of competition. Poetry is meant to be heard as much as read. Attending a poetry performance can provide a whole new perspective on a poem and evoke an ethos you may not have experienced while reading it.
If you’re feeling generous, you can always make a donation to the Academy of American Poets. It’s only with the support of individual contributors that the Academy of American Poets is able to produce free, innovative programs and publications that encourage the reading and teaching of poetry. Donations also help the distribution of over 100,000 National Poetry Month posters to schools, libraries, and bookstores to encourage the celebration and appreciation of poetry this month. You can also order a free poster until mid-April to help spread awareness of the poetic celebration.
10. Look out for special events by the Academy of American Poets
Each year, the Academy of American Poets hosts a gala called Poetry & the Creative Mind to celebrate poetry’s important place in our culture. The event features leading and legendary actors, dancers, artists, musicians, and public figures on one stage, sharing their favorite poems. The event benefits the K-12 Education Program of the Academy of American Poets, including resources for teachers on Poets.org, the Dear Poet project, and materials created and distributed to 100,000 libraries and classrooms for National Poetry Month. All in all, the Academy are the ones really running the show, so be sure to look to them for the big events and celebrations happening this month.
There really is no right or wrong way to celebrate National Poetry Month. Ultimately, the goal is to highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievements of American poets and the influence their works have had on our culture. We encourage you to find a way to get involved with National Poetry Month so that we may continue to preserve the celebration and commemoration of a timeless craft that encourages creativity and self-expression.
Want to know more about your favorite poets and their works? Check out eNotes.com to find over 30,000 study guides complete with summaries, analyses, and critical essays.
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