April has arrived
bringing sunshine and poems.
April took me by surprise this year. (The passage of time seems to have stopped following the rules of order ... but that's another topic.) But here we are ... so welcome to Poetry Month!
The Academy of American Poets created National Poetry Month in 1996. As they (poetically) put it, the goal is to remind us "that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters."
I've been thinking about poetry's power. My nonfiction writing often involves sifting through piles of notes, sources, facts, and figures. When I'm stuck, one way out of the "stuckness" is to write a poem.
A poem is an antidote to writer's block in two ways: First, it can be completed quickly (I mean a draft ... polishing a poem is a different story). Completing a poem helps me restart my writing momentum.Second, a poem helps me find the heart of my topic. A poem boils down a complex idea into its essence. I've written poems about the First Amendment, for example. A poetic metaphor, an image, a figure of speech, or a silly rhyme might show me a new way to illuminate my topic, a path around writer's block.
For similar reasons, I love sharing poems with kids. A poem is short -- a plus in these days of short attention spans. And a poem gets right to the heart of a topic, often right into a young reader's heart.
CELEBRATING POETRY MONTH: some ideas❤ Begin each day with a poem.
Read an old favorite from a dog-eared anthology or surf online for a new favorite. Or, join one of the poetry projects that blossom this month. For example, poet Michelle Schaub hosts a delightful blog, Poetry Boost, offering many resources and poems. Every weekday this month she'll post a video of a poet reading a poem they wrote. Check it out -- you may spot several GROG poets this year.
❤ Take your poetry outside: write poems in chalk on your driveway or sidewalk or playground. (Get permission first ...) Poems should be out where they can be seen -- not stuck in dusty books, right?
❤ Memorize a poem
|Montpelier's PoemCity celebration|
❤ Join public Poetry Month events. Find out what's happening in your area. Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, hosts a PoemCity celebration, posting poems city-wide on walls and windows of local businesses. (I'm excited that one of mine was accepted this year.) Many libraries host April poetry events. Attend a poetry slam! Find a poem-writing workshop! And if you can't find an event ... post your own poems. Or create a poetic celebration with your classroom, friends, or family.
❤ Pair pictures with poems. Choose one or more poems to illustrate. Or use a poem as inspiration for another art project. Your images can show what the poem describes, or respond to the poem by illustrating the feelings it invokes. Or anything else! Or, reverse the process: use a photo or work of art to inspire a new poem. That's an ekphrastic poem!
Finally, my personal favorite:
❤ Try writing a poem each day. Capture the magic of Poetry Month by writing a poem a day! Explore different forms. Some formal poems quite brief. You probably know about haiku. Why not experiment with a fibonacci poem? (Following the fibonacci sequence, this 6-line poem has lines of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 syllables.) Or a list poem, a diamonte, an acrostic, a limerick.... You can find explanations of many poetry forms online. The Writer's Digest listing is a good starting point.
Happy Poetry Month! May poetry make your heart glad, this month and always. ❤