Celebrating the art of poetry

April has the special designation of being National Poetry Month. Since 1996, National Poetry Month is an initiative of The Academy of American Poets to help celebrate the art of poetry and increase the visibility of poetry in popular culture. There are numerous ways to observe this holiday, from attending a poetry reading to taking a stab at a verse or two on your own. The library has a diverse selection of poetry books to enjoy for all ages, from Maya Angelou to Shel Silverstein.

While poetry may have the reputation of being inaccessible and hard to understand, participating in some activities for National Poetry Month will hopefully demonstrate that anyone can appreciate poetry. Some fun options, including those listed below, can be found at www.poets.org/npm. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy poetry.

Attend a Poetry Event: Find events featuring poets and their work. Often the poet will read some of their work and then discuss it as well. It is a great chance to learn more about the poetry and meaning behind the poems. A great upcoming opportunity is on April 7 at the library when Mike Ellis, local poet and author of “Why Do Men Go Fishing? A Humorous Collection of Verse and Prose Regaled” shares his work with us.

Listen to Poetry on your Commute: Or while gardening, or cleaning the house, or working out. Many poems are meant to be recited and heard, not just read. I personally enjoy poetry the most when I hear it read out loud. You can find many performances of poetry online through Youtube or on the artists’ websites. Or attend a high school or college speech contest and sit in on a poetry room and see live performances of a variety of classic and modern poems.

Start a Commonplace Book: This tradition dates back to the Renaissance. Using a blank notebook, copy down your favorite poems. Eventually the book will contain your own private anthology of poetry, unique to you. You could update this tradition as well by making a digital commonplace book online as well.

Play a Game: The game of Exquisite Corpse is perfect for a group looking for a fun and engaging activity and really makes poetry accessible. After deciding on a basic structure for the sentence, the group writes a poem together. The catch is that no one knows that the other is writing. Each participant writes a word, folds the paper over, and passes it to the next. After a few rounds, the poem is revealed.

While poetry may seem daunting, it can be an incredibly enjoyable way to express yourself, whether through an epic ballad or humorous haiku, so I invite everyone to celebrate National Poetry Month this April and find your inner poet.