April Is National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Inspired by the success of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), the Academy of American Poets founded National Poetry Month in April 1996. This celebration aims to:

  • highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets,
  • encourage the reading of poems,
  • assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms,
  • increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media,
  • encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
  • encourage support for poets and poetry.

kid with booksNational Poetry Month features several projects aimed at getting students interested in reading, thinking about, and writing poetry. One such project is Dear Poet, a multimedia education project for grades five through 12 that asks students to write letters in response to hearing poems read by award-winning poets. Both students and teachers can find information on how to participate here.

The National Poetry Month website also offers links to lesson plans for teachers as well as lists of poems organized by occasion and of poetry events (“poetry near you”). You can also sign up for the following newsletters:

  • Poem-a-Day Newsletter
  • Academy of American Poets Newsletter
  • Academy of American Poets Educator Newsletter

Here are 30 ways to celebrate national poetry month (click on this link to see the list presented with links to resource materials):

  1. Order a free National Poetry Month poster and display it at work or school.
  2. Sign up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.
  3. Deepen your daily experience by reading Edward Hirsch’s essay “How to Read a Poem.”
  4. Memorize a poem.
  5. Create an anthology of your favorite poems on Poets.org.
  6. Encourage a young person to participate in the Dear Poet project.
  7. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore.
  8. Review these concrete examples of how poetry matters in the United States today.
  9. Learn more about poets and poetry events in your state.
  10. Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry Month.
  11. Attend a poetry reading at a local university, bookstore, cafe, or library.
  12. Read a poem at an open mic. It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local poetry writing community.
  13. Start a poetry reading group.
  14. Write an exquisite corpse poem with friends.
  15. Chalk a poem on the sidewalk.
  16. Write a letter to a poet thanking them for their work.
  17. Ask the United States Post Office to issue more stamps celebrating poets.
  18. Recreate a poet’s favorite food or drink by following his or her recipe.
  19. Read about different poetic forms.
  20. Read about poems titled “poem.”
  21. Read the first chapter of Muriel Rukeyer’s inspiring book, The Life of Poetry.
  22. Subscribe to American Poets magazine or a small press poetry journal.
  23. Watch Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ latest Poets on Poetry video.
  24. Watch or read Carolyn Forche’s talk “Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness.”
  25. Read or listen to Mark Doty’s talk “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now.”
  26. Read Allen Ginsberg’s classic essay about Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
  27. Watch a poetry movie.
  28. Sign up for a poetry class or workshop.
  29. Get ready for Mother’s Day by making a card featuring a line of poetry.
  30. Celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2015. The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with coworkers, family, and friends.

The following organizations helped make National Poetry Month 2015 possible: 826 National, American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Graywolf Press, National Council of Teachers of English, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Papyrus, Random House, and Scholastic.