Archibald MacLeish once said of poets that “there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style.” At the risk of rendering poetry and poets stylish, the Academy of American Poets for the past twenty years has led the nation in the celebration of April as National Poetry Month. (http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41)
T.S. Eliot’s line about the “cruelest month” drones like a mantra as the winter of ’14 creeps on to remind us Who real is The Boss. Still, the wonder of poetry is that more than any art form it can enhance any mood – whether we’re grumping about the endless winter, pondering the human condition, or celebrating the almost imperceptible inklings of Spring, poetry has the power to share the spirit.
How to celebrate National Poetry Month?
Start with Poets.org (http://www.poets.org), the website of the Academy of American Poets, where you will unearth a treasure trove of delightful ideas ready to bloom in your head and hands – there’s Poetry in Your Pocket Day (April 24), find a poem a day in your email, or submit your own thoughts about poems that have had meaning in your life.
If you would like the share the joy of poetry of young people, you will find a rich resource center for teachers and parents. For example, aspiring bards can watch videos of contemporary poets reading and talking about their work, then write and submit their own poems, describing how and by whom they were inspired.
Check the poetry map for an incredible collection of each state’s poetry organizations, journals, well-known poets past and present, and much more.
And there’s a calendar of Poetry Month activities that can keep you busy 24/7.
Of course there’s an app that will deliver daily poetry readings to your desktop or earpiece of choice.
David R. Godine, Publisher, is celebrating with a daily giveaway of Godine and Black Sparrow titles. Catch Godine’s daily Twitter (@GodinePub) for the publisher’s daily contest, Q&A about general poetry and publishing, especially histories of the publishers. Daily winners can select their favorite library which will be entered into a drawing for a curated collection Black Sparrow poetry titles.
The venerable publisher Alfred A. Knopf sponsors the “Portray Your Love of Poetry” contest. Submit a photo, drawing or other visual representation of poems that inspire you. Find Knopf on Facebook, upload your image, fill out the entry form which will pop up in the voting gallery. Winners receive a packet of new poetry books from Knopf.
Ever a rich resource of all things poetic, the Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org) continues to expand their audio and video holdings including numerous online podcast discussions of poets and poetry. Naturally, there is an app for that, too….During National Poetry Month the Foundation is featuring an audio series of poets discussing their art.
The list goes – and any one of these starting points will lead you into a world of literary wonders beyond belief.
When you do extricate yourself from the websites, consider turning your own hand at ars poetica – doggerel counts. Or possibly indulge yourself by taking time to re-read or listen to a well-wrought rendition of The Wasteland.