This is the final day of National Poetry Month 2011. I hope you found some interesting ways to celebrate; and I hope you stay involved in poetry beyond the month of April—as a writer, a reader, or both. Never mind whether you’re writing for publication or for yourself, friends, and family. No one ever said published poets, well-known poets, seriously aspiring poets, or teaching poets are the only ones who get to celebrate poetry. That’s one of the big problems: Most people think they’re not entitled to write, read, or generally enjoy poetry without an agenda. If it weren’t so compartmentalized as something exclusive, poetry would seem more accessible to more people.
Find some way to keep poetry in your life year round. Here’s an exercise anyone can do:
The Academy of American Poets offers its New Spring Books list on poets.org—a page of new poetry books published by National Poetry Month sponsors. The cover of each book appears with title, author or editor, and publisher listed beneath; this information is linked to a separate page with more information about the book, a sample poem link, and a link to a publisher’s page. Here you can find a link to the publisher’s website. Not only is the New Spring Books page a great resource for researching publishers and what they print, it’s a terrific way to explore the work of poets you may not know.
Each week, pick a title that interests you from the New Spring Books page. Read about the book, read the sample poem, and go to the publisher’s website to learn more. The ideal thing would be to buy a copy of a book that interests you. Since none of us has the financial resources to buy a book every week, commit to buying at least a couple new titles over the next year. Meanwhile, find out if the poet has a personal website, do a Google search for poems the poet may have published in online journals, and generally get to know the poet. Even if you did this particular exercise only once a month, you’d really be expanding your horizons regarding contemporary poetry.
What’s more, you’d be carrying on the spirit of National Poetry Month into the 11 months that follow—which would be the best celebration of all.