Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th. The largest literary celebration in the world, this month-long celebration of poetry is held every April “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the United States celebrate poetry.
One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, as I’ve done for the past several years, I offer you a prompt re-visit that I hope will be inspirational for each of April’s thirty days.
1. Each day, think about the key word (in caps next to the date).
2. Then click on the link and read the poem—one each day of the month. Let each day’s poem inspire you.
3. After thinking a bit about the content of the poem you read, identify something in that poem that “strikes a chord” for you.
4. Working from that “chord,” try to write a poem of your own that somehow incorporates the key word (doesn’t have to be exact) and which may or may involve content similar to the example poem.
5. I’ve deliberately made some leaps in the ways my key words sometimes differ from the content of the poems to which I’ve matched them—take some leaps yourself!
1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content to the examples’—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The inspiration titles and the example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you, to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.
2. Let your reactions to the key words and poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.
3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!
4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.
5. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!
“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda
April 2—THE COLOR RED
“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams
“When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
April 4—PEACE OF MIND
“Where the Mind Is Without Fear” by Rabindranath Tagore
April 5—SOUND or SOUNDS
“Echo” by Christina Rossetti
“I am in Need of Music” by Elizabeth Bishop
April 7—A DAY TO REMEMBER
“A Golden Day” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar
April 8—BEING ALONE
“Alone Looking at the Mountain” by Li Po
“A Moment of Happiness” by Jalal al-Din Rumi
“April Love” by Ernest Christopher Dowson
“Birdhouse” by Diane Lockward
“Patterns” by Amy Lowell
“The Rain” by Robert Creeley
“Dream Song 14” by John Berryman
“The Naming of Birds” by Edwin Romond
“Twilight” by Henri Cole
“The Romantic” by Gerald Stern
“The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young
"The Moment I Knew My Life Had Changed" by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
"Why I Wake Early" by Mary Oliver (Audio)
“Failure” by Philip Schultz
“Family Promises” by Laura Boss
April 23—FAMILY MEMBERS
“Fists” by Joe Weil
"The Yellow Brick Road" by Donna Baier Stein
“Breakfront” by Bob Rosenbloom
April 26—THE FUTURE
“To the Next Centuries” by James Richardson
“Spring” by Christina Rossetti
April 28—MAGNOLIA BLOSSOMS
“Dear Magnolia Blossom” by Grace Marie Grafton
“Hedgehog” by Paul Muldoon
“On The Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou