Thursday, March 31, 2011

It’s National Poetry Month again! To the founders of this celebration, April seemed like the perfect time to celebrate poetry—no all-consuming holidays (if you don’t count April Fool’s Day, the birthdays of yours truly or Amy Cornell (a founder of this very blog), or Easter), no school exams, no snowstorms if we’re lucky—and income tax preparation just cries out for artistic distraction . Not too much happens in the thirty lengthening days of this season of transition, where the weather can vary wildly from day to day.

Here is some background on the celebration and its origins in 1996.

April 14 is “Poem in your Pocket Day.” “The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends.” If you like, The Academy of American Poets will sell you a little volume filled with poems to tear out and share; this year they’ve added another volume for kids.

Teachers are especially encouraged to celebrate the month in their classrooms; the idea is to bring poetry to life, even for the dubious: Scholastic and ReadWriteThink are two sites with suggestions for working with kids. (I’ve just learned, belatedly, that in 2006, the Poetry Foundation named Jack Prelutsky the inaugural American Children’s Poet Laureate. Who knew?)

Here’s a fun list of activities, one for each day of the month, if you are so inclined. I especially like the suggestions for advocacy—lobbying elected officials for arts funding or asking the US Postal Service for more stamps commemorating poets. How about exploring the Favorite Poem Project initiated by one of my favorite Poets Laureate, Robert Pinsky?

Saturday, April 9th is a day of poetry at Women Writing for (a) Change, Bloomington. From 10am-Noon "Poetry Detectives" will discuss poems. Check them out. From 1-3pm, Beth Lodge-Rigal and Nancy Long offer a free sample class for writers and aspiring writers of poetry.

Here's a highly ambitious observance of National Poetry Month—join those attempting to write a poem a day as a participant in NaPoWriMo. “How do [you] participate in NaPoWriMo? Easy! Just write a poem a day for the month of April. You can post them on the internet. You can hide them in a notebook. You can make up a special book just for yourself out of them. Really, all you need to do is write a poem a day for the month of April.”

Enjoy the month! And share with us what you come up with to celebrate poetry in April!

Mary for the Poplar Grove Muse

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