The ice is coming off the lakes. The birds are returning and filling the air with song. The snow is melting. Today crocuses blossomed in our garden, and coltsfoot flowers along the road.
It’s time to put away snowshoes and skis, take out walking shoes and enjoy spring!
And spring means poetry month is here – the largest annual literary celebration in the world according to poetry.org. It is a way to remember the importance of poetry in our lives and throughout civilization – from ancient poets like Homer to those of past centuries like William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, and Emily Dickinson to today’s poets like Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Amanda Gorman and Joy Harjo.
National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Not only poets, but schools, libraries and bookstores celebrate poetry in our culture.
Everyone can participate: readers, writers, students, teachers, old and young, male and female. Bookstores and libraries host literary events. Poets read their poems and bloggers blog about poetry.
How can you celebrate? Here are some ideas.
Read lyrical, poetic picture books as well as poems – they have a lot in common!
At a NESCBWI conference, I listened to Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple speak about the similarities between a poem and a picture book in their talk, Poetry as Picture Book Text. Both use figurative language, sensory details, imagery, personification, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor and other poetic devices. They use rhythm and resonance to evoke feelings and engage the imagination.
Introduce poetry to kids.
It builds vocabulary and improves reading fluency. Need help? Poet and author David L. Harrison has compiled 55 poetry ideas for the classroom during poetry month in the new issue of MISSOURI READER at https://joom.ag/zGzI
Participate in – and organize – poetry readings and events online and in person.
Reading poetry together builds relationships.
Poet Michael Czarnecki hosts Tuesday evening poetry readings via zoom; you can find the link here: https://www.facebook.com/michael.czarnecki.35. Many libraries and bookstores also host regular poetry readings.
In 2016, I wanted to participate in Montpelier’s Poem City – but discovered that I was ineligible because I don’t live in Vermont! So a few of us from our local Poetry Group approached the Adirondack Center for Writing – and Saranac Lake’s Poem Village was born!
Poem Village is a community celebration of poetry open to all – from schoolchildren to seniors. Poems are posted in store windows, surprise pocket poems are hidden at restaurants, doctor’s offices, and place all over the area for you to find. Poems even appear in your email inbox! This year you can visit the online poem showcase here:
You can visit PoemCity events here: https://www.kellogghubbard.org/poemcity
Spark the imagination of your inner poet. How will you celebrate Poetry Month?
As a poet, I celebrate poetry all year long.
Will you join me?