April is a National Poetry Month! It is a month to celebrate poetry and poets from around the country (it is also the month for Thunder Over Louisville, but that is another story).
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. It was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 and has grown over the past two decades. National Poetry Month, which started as a concept, is now a large literary celebration recognized around the world. This month of poetry is recognized and enjoyed by school groups, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and—of course—poets and writers themselves.
Why was April chosen for National Poetry Month?
April was chosen for several reasons. Creating the event, the Academy of American Poets was inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (which occurs every February) and Women’s History Month (which occurs every March), so it made sense for the poet community to gather resources for one month of the year. Through a coordinated campaign by poet advocates, from government agencies to publishers and poets, and word of mouth within writing communities, it was decided April would be an ideal month to introduce and celebrate poetry.
It is a month of sharing with the hope it will assist everyone in enjoying more poetry throughout the year.
Looking to participate in a month of poetry? You are in luck. Louisville's InKY Reading Series is celebrating National Poetry Month in Louisville.
Friday, April 8, 7 p.m. reading at The Bard's Town
The Bard's Town is one of many places to Experience Live Theatre in Louisville. For this poetry event, the following poets will read from their work.
- An editor and copywriter by day, Joshua Poteat is the winner of the Library of Virginia’s 2015 Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry. His book The Regret Histories was a selection of the 2014 National Poetry Series. He is the author of Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World and Ornithologies as well as three chapbooks: The Scenery of Farewell and Hello Again, For the Animal and Meditations.
- Lee Ann Roripaugh is the 2015 poet laureate of South Dakota. A Wyoming native, she first studied music, earning a bachelors in piano performance and a masters in music history before receiving an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Beyond Heart Mountain, which was selected by Ishmael Reed for the National Poetry Series. Other award-winning publications include Year of the Snake; On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year and Dandarians. Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review. In 2015 she was appointed poet laureate of South Dakota.
Tuesday, April 26, 6 p.m. poetry workshop at Iroquois Library
Other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month
You can certainly participate in National Poetry Month without attending an event. After all, poetry is often personal and private, both as a writer and as a reader. Below are a handful of ways to weave poetry into your daily life, both in April and throughout the year.
- Pick up a book of poetry from your local library and commit to reading a poem a day throughout the month of April. Or keep a book or two of poetry somewhere accessible. Maybe a book near your bed so you can read some poetry before going to sleep, or a book on your table so you can read a few lines while eating breakfast.
- Get the kids involved! Take your bucket of sidewalk chalk outside and write poems. Write your own poem on the pavement at a local park, or put your favorite work of another poet on the sidewalk in front of your house.
- Prepare for Mother's Day by writing a poem for your mom.