Wednesday, April 5, 2023

PoemCity, Madness!Poetry and More for Poetry Month ~ by Christy Mihaly

Happy National Poetry Month! 

It's April! Time to celebrate poetry. 
Are you looking for Poetry Month ideas? I've surveyed some poets and rounded up a few suggestions (with many links for more resources). 

Feel free to share other ideas in the comments. And be poetic! ❤
PoemCity Reading 2023


I am feeling very fortunate that Vermont's state capital, Montpelier, is hosting its annual "PoemCity." It's an April-long shindig organized and run by volunteers and the hard-working staff of Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Poets from around Vermont are invited to submit poems. Selected works are printed and posted in shops, restaurants, and other establishments around town. These poems will also be compiled into a PoemCity anthology. (I'm happy that my poem, "Who Cooks for You?" -- about a barred owl -- appears in the Capital Kitchen cooking supply store.)
Shop window poetry

Second grade haiku -- can't beat it!
"Brazil nuts irk me.
All they do is take up space,
and they taste like dirt."

Work by local students appears in a special display, always a highlight. (Check out that Brazil nut haiku!) 
PoemCity also offers free events, including readings, lectures, workshops, craft projects, ekphrasis (using artworks to inspire poetry in an improvisational collaboration), and  parties. 
Poetic paradise!
Montpelier's beloved Kellogg-Hubbard Library

Madness! Poetry

If you can't make it to Montpelier, you can still join in the fun at Madness! Poetry. This online poetry tournament, created by poet Ed DeCaria, is a wild competition modeled after March Madness. "Kids' poetry under pressure!"
Brackets begin with 64 poets ... er ... "authletes." Each pair of competitors is assigned a word, and each individual must write and post an original poem for children, using the word, by a posted deadline in 48 hours or so. When the poems are posted, readers review them and cast their votes to determine which poet will move to the next bracket and repeat the process with a new word. See this year's schedule, here. Special programs encourage teachers and classes to participate. Sign up, as an authlete, a class, or a voter, here.

I can attest from experience that being an authlete is a bit of a sleepless ordeal, but, in the end, a great deal of fun. Anyone who appreciates poetry can sign up to read, vote, and cheer the competitors to greatness. This year, the application deadline is April 16, so there's still time. 

Poets Doing Madness! and Other Things

I asked a few compatriots at the Poets' Garage how they plan to celebrate this month. I'm happy to introduce them here (look out for their poems and books!), and share their thoughts:

Children's poet Kelly Conroy says she is going for the Madness! -- "I'll be consumed with all things Madness! Poetry: reading, critiquing, encouraging, commenting, voting, and possibly competing...eek! It's fast paced, it's for kids, and it is so much fun!" Mad good luck to you, Kelly!

Kelly's poems have appeared in two wonderful anthologies published by Wee Words for Wee Ones, 10.10 and Two Truths and a Fib; three anthologies --Things We Eat, Things We Feel, and What is a Friend? -- by Pomelo Books; and in online publications Better Than Starbucks and Poetry As Promised. We'll be watching for Kelly's poems, this month and beyond!

Poet and novelist Helen Kemp Zax, who recently completed writing a YA novel in verse, says: "I found the experience of writing in this form so satisfying, I’m planning to rewrite another of my novels during April in verse form. My writing days will look like NaNoWriMo but filled with poetry. Of course, I’ll be writing shorter poems to submit to blogs, magazines, and anthologies." Best wishes with the new novel, Helen!

Her poem “Wish” will be published this month in the Sylvia Vardell/Janet Wong anthology What Is a Family? Helen says, "I plan to support this anthology in April by taking part in Rochelle Melander’s 'Play with Poetry' blog posts. As always, I’ll share copies of this anthology with Reading is Fundamental." 

"Basant Panchami" by Helen Zax,
art by Nayantara Surendranath
CRICKET Magazine, April 2020
Helen is co-winner of the 2021 YorkMix International Children’s Poetry Prize, 2018 MG Katherine Paterson Prize winner, and 2019 Finalist. Her poetry appears in anthologies including Imperfect II, chasing clouds, and What is a Friend? and in magazines including Cricket, Hello, High Five, Launchpad, Touchdown, Hunger Mountain, The Caterpillar, and The Dirigible Balloon. She is particularly proud that her poem “Belly Butterflies” was chosen for a Poetry Teaching Programme anthology to be published by Oxford University Press. Helen lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, and Aussiedoodle Huckleberry Finn. 

Children’s author and award-winning poet B.J. Lee say she plans to "celebrate National Poetry Month by doing a blog post(s) with one or more of my poems to [Sylvia Vardell's] Poetry Friday, and sharing to social media." Thanks, B.J.-- and all the Poetry Friday poets! 

B.J. has published poems with Macmillan, National Geographic, Little Brown, Bloomsbury, Penguin, Wordsong, Otter-Barry, Pomelo, Cricket, Highlights, and others. Her latest poem to be included in an anthology is “Box Turtle: Pet for a Day,” in Blessings for Pets, edited by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins and due out from Eerdmans next spring. 
B.J. has also published a picture book,There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth (Pelican Publishing, 2019). She is now hard at work on a YA verse novel. View B.J.'s poetry performances at her website here.

And finally, for Suzy Levinson, a talented New York-based children's author and poet, April means welcoming spring. She says, "One of my favorite things about Poetry Month is it coincides with Awesome Weather Month (aka April), when trees are blossoming, birds are chirping, and New York City looks halfway decent. I like to go on a lot of walks around my neighborhood and take it all in, finding inspiration for new poems wherever I look." Yay for Springtime strolls!

Also this April: Suzy is celebrating her debut picture book, Animals in Pants (Cameron Kids/Abrams, illus. by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell). It is a collection of silly poems about -- you guessed it -- animals wearing pants! It hits shelves April 11 -- check out this amazing cover.

Suzy's poems have appeared in such magazines as HighlightsCricket, and the School Magazine, and poetry anthologies A World Full of Poems (DK Children), I Am a Jigsaw (Bloomsbury), and Shaping the World (Macmillan). 

A very Happy Poetry Month, Suzy!

And Happy Poetry Month to all! May you find poetry all around you, this month and always.


  1. April is the perfect month for poetry, Chris. Lucky Vermont folks for poetry splashed all over Montpelier with PoemCity and your poem and those kids' haikus!

    1. Thanks, Kathy -- we have no budding blooms anywhere in sight, so we have to have poems!

  2. Love this idea of spreading poetry throughout town. I remember a friend encouraging everyone to carry a poem in their pocket to share during the month.

  3. Yes! Poem in your pocket is a great way to share poetry! In April and every other month.