The month of April is officially National Poetry Month, a whole month dedicated to celebrating poetry. National Poetry Month (or NaPoMo) became official in 1996 through the Academy of American Poets after the success of Black History Month and Women’s History Month (poets.org.) It is geared towards celebrating poetry and poets while encouraging people of all ages to read, appreciate and create poetry.
How to Celebrate
Anyone interested in poetry can take part in NaPoMo. If you are curious about poetry, a good place to start is by picking up a book of poetry or reading poetry online. A great way to get familiar with poetry is to read about the various styles and forms — a list of recommended poetry books is included at the end of this article. Gain a little rudimentary knowledge of poetry by reading a few poems and pick out a poem that you would like to memorize or recite. Reciting poetry for friends or family is a fantastic way to appreciate poetry as an art form of spoken word.
Not only is memorizing a poem a good way to celebrate, putting up poets.org posters and participating in “Poem in Your Pocket Day” on April 26 are as well. In Salt Lake City, Red Butte Garden features “Poetry in the Garden” for the entire month of April: poetry is placed in a number of “Poetry Boxes” along the trails for visitors to read (redbuttegarden.org.) Winners of the Red Butte Garden’s Poetry Contest also have their work featured in the exhibit.
Poetry Foundation is an exceptional resource that includes podcasts, information about learning poetry and featured poets (poetryfoundation.org). Poetry Foundation’s monthly publication “Poetry Magazine” has been running since 1912 and represents some of the best voices in modern poetry from around the world. There is also a Glossary of Poetic Terms on the website to help readers and sections dedicated to specific audiences — adults, teens and children. Other popular poetry magazines and journals include the American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review and Prairie Schooner.
Poets.org, created by the Academy of American Poets, features “poem-a-day” and an archive of poets and poems available to browse. You can search for a particular poem or poet by the school or movement, form or theme. There are over eight thousand poems available and information on over two thousand poets. The Academy of American Poets also publishes the American Poets Magazine twice a year, available with a membership.
Recommended Books of Poetry
Countless poetry books are available to readers, from anthologies to collections and criticism. Here are three books that I would recommend to anyone regardless if they have a deep appreciation or newly founded curiosity.
“101 Famous Poems” by Roy J. Cook is a collection of well-known poems that are considered to be some of the best works of Poetry. This is a marvelous introduction to poetry for people just learning about poetry, it is also a great collection to own for those already familiar with poetry. “101 Famous Poems” can be found on Amazon from $9 to $11.
“The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms” edited by Eavan Boland and Mark Strand contains valuable information on forms of poetry. This anthology is amazing — forms are divided into separate chapters in which a clear outline of the form is given followed by a selection of poems written in the given form. An extraordinary resource for readers and poets alike who desire to know exactly what makes a poem. “The Making of a Poem” can be found on Amazon from anywhere between $4 and $15.
This last recommendation is one of my most prized books of poetry, “The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry: Sixty-Five Outstanding Poets” edited by J.D. McClatchy. This collection was originally published in October of 1990 so “contemporary” for this book is about twenty-eight years old, but the poets in this collection are phenomenal. A few poets include Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Sexton and Adrienne Rich. I highly recommend this book for lovers of modern poetry. “The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry” can be found on Amazon used from $0.10 to $4.
A Month of Poetry to Change a Lifetime
Regardless if you are new to poetry, an established lover or a poet yourself, NaPoMo is an opportunity to continue the legacy of appreciation for poetry. Both small and extravagant ways of showing appreciation contribute to celebrating poetry and every little moment counts. Poetry enriches one’s life and connects people across time and space. Whether you decide to write a poem every day to celebrate or just read a poem or two, poetry brings awareness to readers and should be enjoyed. Start spring with a literary step and read poetry — you won’t be disappointed.
For More Information about NaPoMo go to https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/
If you are looking for poetry on social media sites this month use these hashtags: #napomo, #poemaday and #poetry.
“Poetry in the Garden” featured by Red Butte Garden:
Located at 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mon-Sun
Admission for U Students with their Student ID is free, Faculty and Staff $12, Adults $14