The Academy of American Poets created National Poetry Month in 1996 to build awareness of the rich heritage of classic and contemporary poets and poems and their impact on our culture. Celebrated by bookstores, libraries, schools, and bloggers, the hope is that more of us will become aware of the joys of poetry. Celebrated Poet, Billy Collins, wrote this somewhat humorous piece about our desires to understand poetry.
“Introduction to Poetry”
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 a rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
~Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States 2001-2003
Billy Collins writes, teaches, and inspires all of us with his gifts of poetry. From Shakespeare to Milton to Dr. Seuss, we have a long and diverse heritage in the art form
So, what can you do to honor and participate in National Poetry Month? How about carrying a poem in your pocket? You could either write a piece yourself and share it with others, or you can find a poem from one of your favorite classics and sit with it, enjoy its mood and intention, and write it in a card to give a friend.
Look for poems on themes that make you happy. Poems exist on every subject imaginable. Find a good poem on love, or marriage or raising children and then write it down in your journal or on a note card and post it on the refrigerator.
Look for poetry books at local bookstores or visit websites. Encourage people in your family to try their hand at writing a poem, perhaps about a favorite pet or cooking dinner together. Any topic that brings a new light on the everyday moments can be fun to share.
Be more intentional about reading poetry newsletters, writing reviews, or letting publishers know that you appreciate the genre of poetry and want to see more books on the subject. Let a poem walk through your mind, do a little dance, and give you some new insights today.