By now you probably know that it is National Poetry Month. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.
The goals of National Poetry Month are to:
- Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
- Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
- Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
- Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
- Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
- Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
- Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry
Why celebrate poetry? Because poetry is a kind of magic. Poetry is a spell, words conjuring with time and space, taking us to places we have known, or haven’t known. Poetry calls forth our deep being. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind. A poem can call us like the wild geese from an open sky.
I recommend an on-line visit to the robust website of the Poetry Foundation – an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. The Poetry Foundation exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. Another wonderful on-line resource is Poets.org, which has compiled an inspired list of 30 ways you can celebrate poetry.
Why not celebrate by recording a poem and sharing it with the world? The Record-a-Poem group invites everyone to post audio recordings of their favorite poems. People can upload recordings they have on their computers, or use SoundCloud to upload audio files directly to the group using the Upload button here.
I would also like to invite you to discover new poetic forms such as electronic poetry, also know as e-poetry, digital poetry, new-media poetry, hypertext poetry, or computer poetry. Electronic poetry seeks to exploit the unique capabilities of computers and networks to provide a text whose elements and behaviors would not “translate” to the printed page. “I ♥ E-Poetry” is a wonderful website in which to experience digital poetry. The site is dedicated to the exploration, distribution, and critical consideration of this emergent genre. Here are a few beautiful examples of e-poetry: “Faith” by Robert Kendall; “Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky” by Shariff Ezzat; “In the White Darkness” by Reiner Strasser and M.D. Coverley.
Introduction to Poetry
By Billie Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.