Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I Love April: National Poetry Month

"April is the cruellest month . . ." wrote T. S. Eliot in The Wasteland. I'm sure he would defend his stance, were he around today, and with the income tax deadline smack dab in the middle, he may have an argument. Nevertheless, I think the month has plenty of strong points. I've always favored the milder transitional seasons, spring and fall, to winter's cold and summer's heat. I could go into a rapturous rant about the flowers and the pleasant temperature, but today I have other things on my mind: National Poetry Month.

Begun in 1996, the celebration of National Poetry Month has found its way into my classroom every year for as far back as I can remember. I've collected the posters each year, which I haul out and hang when April arrives. I have also participated in all kinds of related activities, especially those I could use with my students. We've created poems as messages in a bottle, and we've celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day. Last year I began participating with Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides "Poem a Day Challenge," an activity that has grown into a virtual community and continued through the year on a weekly basis.

This year I want to challenge everyone who rarely picks up a book of poetry to consider giving it a try. During April, I'll share some favorite titles old and new, along with some websites of interest.

First, check out the Academy of American Poets @ or at their National Poetry Month page, which is filled with links to poems and activities:

The following site will be posting an original poem a day from well-known children's poets:

One site that has been a favorite of mine for years is Billy Collins' Poetry 180, which presents a poem for each day of the academic school year and a no-pressure approach to enjoying the poems found there:

Until my favorite local public radio station changed their programming, I enjoyed Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac on my drive to work every day. Now I have to leave by 6:51 to have that pleasure, so I usually have to default to reading the site or listening to the podcast. I do admit that I particularly enjoy Keillor's reading voice:

If you need your magnetic poetry fix when away from your refrigerator, never fear. You can enjoy virtual magnetic poetry at this online site:

During his stint as national poet laureate, Ted Kooser began his regular column (available free to newspapers as well as online):

I plan to continue to inundate you with poetry throughout April, hoping that you too will fall under its spell and seek out some of today's poets.

1 comment:

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Hi Nancy, unlike you, I really don't enjoy Keillor's reading voice. He turns every poem into prose. I suppose it's the Minnesota flat inflection that makes me want to shake him. He's never chosen one of my poems, and it's probably a good thing. They may be too rhythmical for him! And I just wouldn't want to hear him turn it into prose.
But of course I love Lake Woebegone. HIs voice is perfect for that.
Your opinionated poet-friend, on the eve of National Poetry Month.