Monday, April 09, 2007

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and this means it's time to celebrate. But if you're running short of ideas, don't sweat it. The Academy of American Poets, which began NPM in 1996, features on its web site 30 ways you can pay homage to poetry. Some of my top picks are memorizing a poem (who doesn't want a poem stuck in their head? I recommend memorizing while exercising), putting poetry in an unexpected place (for someone else to happen upon and enjoy), and starting a commonplace book, or a notebook in which you copy your favorite poems and quotations. Commonplace books make fantastic keepsakes, as you can look back over them later and recall what you were reading during particular eras of your life.

In addition to the "30 Ways to Celebrate," you can keep up with the most recently published poetry by taking advantage of the Academy’s “Poem-A-Day” and “Spring Books List.” Poem-A-Day offers readers the chance to receive one poem from a new book each day via e-mail during NPM while the Spring Books List details all the latest books of poetry. The list notes anthologies, such as Cave Canem’s just released The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, as well as translated work, including new translations of Baudelaire and Lorca. We see new volumes of work from established poets such as John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, Mark Strand, and Charles Wright on the list, as well as many first books and new books from younger voices.

On my personal list of recommendations is Against Which by Ross Gay, Quantum Lyrics: Poems by A.Van Jordan, and Bucolics by Maurice Manning. I would also like to give shout outs to poets with new books whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Ninth Letter: Janice N. Harrington, whose first book Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone was selected from over 900 manuscripts to win BOA’s A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize; and Philip White, whose book The Clearing received the Walt McDonald First Book in Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Texas Tech University Press; Bob Hicok, This Clumsy Living, (U. Pittsburgh); Susah Hahn, The Scarlet Ibis (Northwestern UP); David Kirby The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems (LSU); and James Hoch, Miscreants: Poems (W. W. Norton).

Finally, the Academy web site offers something called “Life Lines,” a section giving readers the opportunity to share their favorite line(s) of poetry. So, in this same spirit, I would like to invite you to post your favorites here on the Ninth Letter site. What better way to celebrate than to fill up the comments section with poetry.

For more information and additional resources for teachers, librarians and booksellers, visit the Academy’s NPM section here.

Huzzah, poetry!

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