April Showers Bring Utah’s Annual Poetry Festival for National Poetry Month


Poster for Utah Poetry Festival (Courtesy Utah Poetry Festival)

By Avery Greig, Arts Editor


Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, but April is National Poetry Month and brings with it the annual Utah Poetry Festival in its vast, creative glory.

A Hybrid Celebration

Funded by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums and Utah Humanities, the Utah Poetry Festival is the state’s pinnacle of poetry appreciation with a month-long, statewide bash of all things prose and stanza. Sporting poetry walks, craft talks, writing workshops, competitions and live streams across the state, the festival has something to offer for every poet’s niche — and all for free.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reigns on, the festival has adopted a hybrid structure for its numerous events. “There are some upsides to doing this both virtually and in person; in person it feels more intimate, but virtually allows for a lot more information to be shared for a lot longer period of time,” said Utah’s poet laureate and festival host Paisley Rekdal. “Last year we discovered that there were a lot of people who moved away from Utah who wanted to know what was going on in their home state, so we got a lot of people who came into these events virtually.”

It seems that the pandemic’s parameters have turned a positive outcome and allowed for the festival to reach more individuals, even beyond the statewide celebration. “Poems are sort of the perfect kind of shareable media that allows us to come together more. The idea that there’s a real upswelling of emotion that poetry captures best … it’s something that we can share with each other easily,” Rekdal said.

One For All

During National Poetry Month, founded by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, poetry celebrations can be found across the nation in various forms and fonts, from local writing intensives to author Savannah Brown’s Escapril event held over Instagram. “Every day in April we have a Utah poet reading or performing an original poem, and we can send that out via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so people have little daily bits of poetry sent to them,” Rekdal said.

Regardless of your preferred partaking, the springtime provides the perfect inspiration for producing wonderful prose. “Poetry is something that people turn to in their darkest hours and their happiest moments. It’s the first thing that people reach for when you get married, when you get divorced, when a child is born, when someone dies … we reach for poetry,” Rekdal said.

Edgar Allen Woah: Festival Details

To indulge in the festival’s numerous and free events, interested parties must pre-register via the festival’s event schedule. Recordings of events are available on the Utah Humanities YouTube channel or feel free to visit Rekdal’s Twitter for easy access to virtual poems. “People find poetry intimidating because they might feel it’s a secret or riddle, or it’s meant to keep them out,” Rekdal said. “But poetry encompasses such a wide range of subject matters and experiences and different types of language … I guarantee you that there will be an event or reading where somebody is going to read something that will knock your socks off.”


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