April marks the 25th celebration of National Poetry Month, founded in 1996, by the Academy of American Poets. It is a month–long celebration of poets, poetry, and their vital role in society.
In past years, the Academy has commissioned a stamp of famed poet Langston Hughes, illuminated the Empire State Building in blue lights, hosted a gala at the White House and gave away 100,000 free poetry books. This year is no different; Even with COVID-19, there are numerous ways you can celebrate national poetry month wherever you are.
1. Attend the annual Poetry & the Creative Mind gala on April 29.
Normally held in New York, this event will be virtual for the first time in its 18 year history. The gala, free to attend, will feature poetry readings by guests and poets including Meryl Streep as the event chair and Elizabeth Alexander as Master of Ceremonies. Register here.
2. Join BYU-Idaho’s poetry workshop
Develop your own writing skills in a supportive environment by attending this weekly workshop.
“The poetry workshop was a safe haven for me my first semester here,” said Rachel Welker, a junior studying English. “Poetry has always helped me to process my life and express my thoughts, and the poetry workshop fostered those skills and connected me with new friends.”
Group meetings were paused last spring due to COVID-19 but will restart soon. Follow the BYU-Idaho Poetry Workshop Facebook group for updates and more opportunities.
3. Share and read poetry in the library
On the first floor of the David O. Mckay library, to the right of the circulation desk, is a “Post A Poem” board. Try sharing your own poetry here, anonymously or not, or write a nice comment on someone else’s poem! The poem board is always in the library, but there are also several special installations just for National Poetry Month. Students can try magnetic poetry, collaborative poetry, or reading some published writings by BYU-Idaho poets.
“What I would hope for students is that they don’t think poetry is some elitist, prim and proper thing that only academic people can enjoy and understand,” said Christopher Fox, a catalog librarian at the David O. Mckay library. “I think poetry provides something for everyone. And I also firmly believe that everyone is a poet themselves – everyone can write poetry! If they are exposed to it, if they just try to read it, and give writing a try, I think they’ll find it very fulfilling and expressive.”
4. Share a #PocketPoem on April 29
Thursday, April 29 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Take this opportunity to carry around one of your favorite poems and share it with your roommates, friends, classmates, and on social media with the hashtag #PocketPoem. The New York Public Library has even created a handy printable with various poems to choose from.
5. Explore 30 more ways to celebrate
The Academy of American Poets compiled 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month. Whether it is playing games with friends, watching YouTube videos, or trying your own hand at writing, there is a way to celebrate National Poetry Month for everyone!