Started in 1996, National Poetry Month is held every April to celebrate the awesomeness of poetry. Libraries, schools, publishers, anyone who likes words and poetry, have special events, online programs, poem-a-days and all kinds of neat stuff. I wrote tons of poetry when I was in grade school and even more when I was an angsty teen (oh, the pain of the suburbanite underachiever).
In fact, my mom saved my very first poem. Written in the 4th grade, it illustrates my tendency toward the macabre. (Seriously? I have no pappy. Egads, Suzy.)
What is Yellow?
Yellow is the color of happiness.
Yellow is the sun.
Yellow means fun.
I like yellow because
It is a wonderful, curious color.
Yellow and orange are best buddies.
Curious, wonderful, fun and sun describe this beautiful color.
Yellow is the color of my Easter dress I wear because I’m happy.
I go to visit Granny because I have no Pappy.
My mom wears her yellow shoes.
Which are in twos.
Yellow is a snappy shade.
Clearly I was the next Robert Frost. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.
If you are in Pittsburgh, you live in a good place for poetry. If you want to hear or read poetry, you have some serious options. There are several different calendars of literary events: the Pittsburgh Literary Calendar Facebook page, and the Sampsonia Way Literary Calendar are great places to begin.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has wonderful poetry resources and holds several poetry events a month (not just on special occasions). At Main there is a monthly program called 3 Poems by…Poetry Discussion Group. The poet for April is Rita Dove. There is also an excellent Sunday Poetry and Reading Series. For National Poetry Month CLP- Allegheny has been posting a Poem-A-Day on their Facebook page. CLP- South Side (my home base) had a great Winter Poetry Series in partnership with the Pittsburgh Poetry Society. We also had a teen program celebrating poetry with sidewalk chalk! (photo credit: Brooke Askew)
There are some really fun online poetry events happening, too! At The Rumpus, there has been a poem a day project. Not only do you get a new, fresh poem every day for 30 days, but you can usually listen to it, too! Not into long poetry? Check out Cornell University’s Mann Library’s Daily Haiku.
The Academy of American Poets, the creators of National Poetry Month, have all kinds of crazy poetry fun at Poets.org. Celebrate 30 different ways. Take a poem to lunch. Encourage a young person to write a letter to a poet. Visit a poetry landmark. I visited Edgar Allan Poe’s grave in Baltimore: people still leave roses and booze. Finally, on April 18 (Thursday!) I will have a poem in my pocket.
My favorite poem!
i like my body when it is with your
i like my body when it is with your body.
It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh … And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new
e.e. cummings, 1894-1962