Did you know that April is Poetry Month? And it has been ever since 1996, when it was introduced by the “Academy of American Poets”. The goal? To increase awareness and appreciation of poetry of course. It has also been celebrated in Canada since 1998, and over the years it has made its way over the ocean with many countries joining in as well.
On the website of the Academy of American Poets, you’ll find free educational resources for teachers who want to get involved.
How did it all start?
The Academy saw the success of Black History Month and Women’s History Month and decided in 1995 to see if they could do something similar for poetry. They got together with publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organisations and of course also poets and teachers to see if it would be useful and how they could go about it. The verdict was positive and the first National Poetry Month was organised in 1996.
In 1998, the Academy and the “American Poetry & Literacy Project” joined forces and distributed 100,000 free poetry books from New York to California. And that same year, President Clinton and his wife hosted a gala at the White House which included poets Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.
In 2001, the organisation came up with a new idea. Americans could vote for their favourite poets and the winner would be featured on a postage stamp. The winner was Langston Hughes and the stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service in January 2002.
In 2012, the Academy launched the “Dear Poet” project, which allows students to read and write poems during the Poetry Month. The best of those poems are then published on Poets.org. This project is accompanied by a lesson plan for K-12 teachers (for free).
How can you get involved?
To get involved in Poetry Month is as simple as reading a poem this month. Or more than one, or even entire poetry books and collections. Don’t know where to start? How about taking a look at the Best Poetry books of 2019, a list curated by Goodreads!
You can of course also try your hand at writing your own poetry. Take a look at these 11 rules for poetry writing for beginners:
- Read a lot of poetry
- Listen to live poetry recitations
- Start small
- Don’t obsess over your first line
- Embrace tools
- Enhance the poetic form with literary devices
- Try telling a story with your poem
- Express big ideas
- Paint with words
- Familiarize yourself with myriad forms of poetry
- Connect with other poets
And if you want to share the poetry love, please send me your favourite poems in the comments! I’d love to discover some new poems.
EDITOR’S NOT: THIS IS NOT AN APRIL FOOL’S JOKE 😉