Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th every year. This month-long celebration of poetry is designed “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the United States celebrate poetry.
One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, for the fifth year I offer you what I hope will be inspiration for each of April’s thirty days.
This year, I’ve done some research into the most popular poems of all time and have listed my favorites among them below (in no particular order). As a change from previous years, this year, I ask you to click on the links below the poem titles and poets and to read the poems—one each day of the month. After reading the poem for any given day, spend some time with it; think about the content and anything in the poem that “strikes a chord” for you. Working from that “chord,” try to write a poem of your own that may or may not involve similar content. Let the famous poems inspire you and, then, follow your muse!
April 1—“Daffodils” (“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”) by William Wordsworth
April 2—“Remember” by Christina Rossetti
April 3—“If” by Rudyard Kipling
April 4—“Invictus” by W. E. Henley
April 5—“Hope Is the thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson
April 6—“Answer to a Child’s Question” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
April 7—“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (with audio)
April 8—“Love and Friendship” by Emily Brontë
April 9—“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
April 10—“I Carry Your heart With Me” by E. E. Cummings
April 11—“I Loved You” by Alexander Pushkin
April 12—“Life Is Fine” by Langston Hughes
April 13—“Seven Ages of Man” by William Shakespeare
April 14—“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
April 15—“I Taught Myself to Live Simply” by Anna Akhmatova
April 16—“Brown Penny” by William Butler Yeats
April 17—“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda
April 18—“Digging” by Seamus Heaney
April 19—“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
April 20—“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
April 21—“Cinderella” by Sylvia Plath
April 22—“Laughing Song” by William Blake
April 23—“The Starry Night” by Anne Sexton
April 24—“Dreams” by Langston Hughes
April 25—“Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
April 26—“No Man Is an Island” by John Donne
April 27—“Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins
April 28—“Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney
April 29—“The Bear” by Galway Kinnell
April 30—“Alone” by Philip Levine
1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content to the examples’—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you and to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.
2. Let your reactions to the poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.
3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!
4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.
5. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!
As always, your sharing is welcome,
so please feel welcome to post your thoughts and poems as comments!
Regular weekly prompts will resume on Saturday, May 2nd.
In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!
Happy National Poetry Month!
Let the poem-ing begin!