National Poetry Month

Updated April 8, 2022 | Infoplease Staff

For any readers in April, happy National Poetry Month! It is an important month-long period where readers and writers alike can explore the wide world of poetry in all its forms, and become familiar with the myriad of both influential and niche authors who have contributed to the genre.

Not only is this an excellent time to celebrate the arts and various story-telling cultures around the world, but it is a great opportunity to discuss the elements of poetry writing, read poetry out loud, and perhaps even learn how to write it yourself!

What Is National Poetry Month?

This month-long national celebration of poetry was first established in 1996, by the Academy of American Poets, a New York City foundation that is still a superpower in the modern American poetry world fever since 1934, and is devoted to being an endowment for the arts.

During April, people all over the world come together to read, write, and discuss types of poetry and how impactful it can be to our societies, as well as partake in events devoted entirely to such literature.

And though this original poetry foundation was created by an American group of writers, it is still a place for poets of all countries and walks of life, from those who are marginalized to disabled creators, and equally as open to everyone to enjoy.

Why Is National Poetry Month Important?

Without a doubt, the sharing of a poem and poetry as an art has been integral for thousands of years. And devoting a whole month to uncovering the threads woven by poetry books throughout the human timeline can be enlightening, to say the least.

For example, the "Epic of Gilgamesh" is one of the first instances of recorded poetry, set down in cuneiform by the Mesopotamians in around 2100 BC.

Additionally, the ancient Greek poet Homercompiled the epic stories of "The Odyssey" and "The Iliad" around 500 BC, as one of the classic oral poetry traditions that would be carried on until today, whenever people read poetry out loud.

As such, poetry is a foundational aspect of the modern world, no matter where you trace your heritage back. It is truly one of the core literature types in existence.

And not only does poetry encompass the history of culture, but it is also essential for expressing and sharing emotions with both yourself and others, which is key in human psychology. Poetry provides a lens through which readers, writers, and listeners can better understand the world around them, and their own inner realms.

From the poets of old to the latest U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, poets have changed the landscape of words and thought.

How To Celebrate National Poetry Month

There are plenty of ways to celebrate National Poetry Month and commemorate one of the oldest types of literature, including further reading or even getting personally involved in the scene.

Read Works Of Poetry

Try delving into some of the greatest poets from around the world, including metaphor master Maya Angelou, longing Emily Dickenson, landscaper Robert Frost, sonneteer Walt Whitman, atmospheric Edgar Allan Poe, musical Langston Hughes, confessional Sylvia Plath, and the poet Yeats, who could turn a love ballad or esoteric poem into something truly epic.

Interested readers can find information about these writers through many poetry websites, including the following free resources:

  • great place to start exploring older texts, including Medieval English poetry and the Romantic-era poets, the Luminarium has all of your early poetic needs.
  • a resource for poetry and creative writing, the Poetry Foundation can be your first stop on the way to discovering both the past and modern poetry timeline, with thousand of texts, articles, and biographies for free, as well as a poem a day.
  • appealing catalog of various authors spans works from famous writers to lesser-known poets, all available at your fingertips at The Other Pages Poets Corner.

Check out your local library, chain bookstores, or independent booksellers for a variety of titles. Alternatively, you could search for a good podcast that many subscribers enjoy, like "The New Yorker: Poetry" or "Scottish Poetry Library Podcast".

Share Poetry With Others

Another great connection to make with poetry is by reading it aloud, going to a show, or even poetry writing.

Try hosting a poetry book club with friends and discussing some of the best literary works. Or, if there is a poetry slam where you live, watching performance poetry read aloud can be a fun night out.

And finally, what better way to commemorate the greats who have come before than by dipping the (possibly) proverbial quill pen and scripting a new poem of your own!

Do not forget that like everything else, writing a form of poetry is just a step-by-step process. Great writing skills can be self-taught and build self-confidence, and learn about different poetic styles. Additionally, there are many styles of poetry to try, including acrostic poems or even haiku.

Try to start with an idea or an emotion to convey and then brainstorm where it could go. Explore a variety of poetic devices to help hone the edge of your idea, and just see where the Muses take you!

Additionally, consider submitting your work to a variety of online contests, such as the NPR mini poem contest on social media or the many free competitions run by Poetry Soup.

Additional Information

Are you interested in reading more about literature, writing poetry, or famous poets? We have plenty of National Poetry Month resources, including poetry quizzes and quotations to check out.

And if you enjoyed the article, why not drop a line to let us know, or share it with others who might like to embrace their poetic tendencies!

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