To soften the gusty blow of the so-called cruelest month, the Academy of American Poets decreed April National Poetry Month, a time to read and celebrate the written and spoken word, and to participate in various poetry-related activities.
In 2012, for example, the organization asked for submissions from student-poets, some of whom had their work published on. To honor Poetry Month this year, Richard Blanco, the President Inaugural Poet and Education Ambassador of the Academy of American Poets, blogged about the value of poetry, especially in the classroom.
“Our teachers should be encouraged to share poems and to draw on poetry as a resource,” Blanco wrote. “Our poets are citizen journalists, activists, heroes, the narrators of our democracy-in-progress.”
It’s an urgent plea, especially amid the curriculum changes implemented by Common Core, which centers on nonfiction reading. But for those promoting engagement with poetry, it’s important to spread the word long after Poetry Month is over. As poet Charles Bernstein claims in his essay, “Against National Poetry Month As Such,” Poetry Month’s aims “have been misguided because these organizations have decided to promote not poetry but the idea of poetry, and the idea of poetry too often has meant almost no poetry at all.”
So before you sing Poetry Month’s praises, read a poem! There are so many to celebrate, including the below collections, by emerging poets and established writers.