If you ask me, we don’t have enough poetry in our lives.
In bygone times, newspapers carried poems almost daily. Magazines carried poems in every issue, but today you find fewer poems published in fewer magazines — can you name the periodical publication in which you last saw a poem that caught your eye, or heart?
Rhyme and meter power their way into our minds. Teachers who use poetry find lessons stick longer with students.
Shouldn’t we use a lot more?
Since 1996, several groups including the Academy of American Poets have celebrated National Poetry Month in April. There are posters,and of course April is a month with several poems to its credit — Paul Revere’s Ride, The Concord Hymn, To a Lady with a Guitar, An April Day, The Waste Land, and several poems just about April as a month.
It’s a good time to beef up our poetry tool boxes, if we are managers of organizations, or teachers, or parents, or human.
Poetry lovers gave thought to how to do that, and there are many good recommendations out there. For example, from Poetry.org, 30 activities for National Poetry Month 2014:
30 Ways to Celebrate
|Take a poem out to lunch
“Adding a poem to lunch puts some poetry in your day and gives you something great to read while you eat.”
|Put a poem on the pavement
“Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk.”
|Recite a poem to family and friends
“You can use holidays or birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate with a poem that is dear to you, or one that reminds you of the season.”
|Organize a poetry reading
“When looking for a venue, consider your local library, coffee shop, bookstore, art gallery, bar or performance space.”
|Promote public support for poetry
“Every year, Congress decides how much money will be given to the National Endowment for the Arts to be distributed all across America.”
|Start a poetry reading group
“Select books that would engage discussion and not intimidate the reader new to poetry.”
|Read interviews and literary criticism
“Reading reviews can also be a helpful exercise and lend direction to your future reading.”
|Buy a book of poems for your library
“Many libraries have undergone or are facing severe cuts in funding. These cuts are often made manifest on library shelves.”
|Start a commonplace book
“Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called commonplace books.”
|Integrate poetry with technology
“Many email programs allow you to create personalized signatures that are automatically added to the end of every email you send.”
|Ask the Post Office for more poet stamps
“To be eligible, suggested poets must have been deceased for at least ten years and must be American or of American descent.”
|Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
“Colleges and arts centers often make individual courses in literature and writing available to the general public.”
|Subscribe to our free newsletter
“Short and to the point, the Poets.org Update, our electronic newsletter, will keep you informed on Academy news and events.”
|Write a letter to a poet
“Let the poets who you are reading know that you appreciate their work by sending them a letter.”
|Visit a poetry landmark
“Visiting physical spaces associated with a favorite writer is a memorable way to pay homage to their life and work.”
How will you use National Poetry Month in your classroom, teachers? And by “teachers, ” I mean you, math teachers, social studies teachers, phys ed teachers, biology and chemistry teachers. You don’t use poetry? No wonder America lags in those subjects . . .
What’s do you remember about your teachers’ use of poetry in learning?
What’s your favorite poem?
- National Poetry Month homepage at the Academy of American Poets
- Bellingham, Washington, celebrates National Poetry Month, even opening a new library
- Los Gatos, California, takes poetry seriously, with a city Poet Laureate, Erica Goss, who has a bunch of stuff scheduled for the month (yes, Los Gatos is close to Los Gatos Canyon, subject of a Woody Guthrie song about the 1948 crash of an airplane carrying migrant workers to be deported)
- Paso Robles, California, celebrates with flags created from library patrons’ favorite poems
- Teachers Scholastic has a bunch of resources for teachers
- National Poetry Month at Read/Write/Think