Depending on who you ask, April can be either proud-pied or cruel. At Canton Public Library, we think that April is the coolest month—because it’s Poetry Month.
Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month has grown over the past 26 years to a sprawling literary event observed by libraries, schools, and booksellers devoted to the reading and celebration of poetry. On the academy’s website, you can find links to Poetry Month events and activities to keep you busy all month long.
Sign up for the Poem-a-Day email list to receive a new poem in your inbox every day. Each month features a curated selection of poems by a new guest editor. This April, the poems will be selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian-American poet and novelist. You can find the list of other guest editors for the year here. They also publish short interviews where the authors discuss their selection process.
You can also sign up to receive a copy of the official Poetry Month poster designed by the winner of the annual Poster Contest put on by the academy. This year’s design is by Lara Lazar, an 11th grade student from Yonkers, New York. These posters are distributed to schools and libraries across the nation and are a fun way to showcase the power and joy of poetry. If you have a young artist or designer in your life, encourage them to submit their design to the contest next fall. In addition to having their artwork seen by millions of people, they’ll also be featured in American Poets magazine and take home a cash prize.
The Academy of American Poets also maintains a job board for poets looking for literary and arts jobs, and hosts a selection of lesson plans and other materials for educators looking to bring poetry into their classrooms. There is also a collection of thousands of poems and essays available to read for free. Each poem links to a short biography of the poet.
You can also visit The Poetry Foundation for more poems, articles, podcasts and videos. The foundation is another organization dedicated to poetry. They publish Poetry magazine, “the oldest monthly magazine devoted to verse in the English language,” which featured the first publications of classic poems like “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock'' and “We Real Cool” by T. S. Eliot and Gwendolyn Brooks, respectively. They also feature their own version of Poem of the Day if you’re interested in multiple daily servings.
If you enjoy slam and performance poetry, you can find lots of videos on YouTube of artists performing their poems. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite performances. You can also follow your favorite contemporary poets on social media. Artists like Rupi Kaur pioneered using Instagram as a poetic medium, pairing short verses with images to create poignant works of art.
Of course, you can also browse and check out the poetry we have here at CPL. If you’re interested in something a little different, we have a variety of novels written entirely in verse. Writers like Ellen Hopkins and Jason Reynolds have written some powerful stories in this format. You can even download and stream audiobook versions of our novels in verse using hoopla and Libby. Take a look at our list of great titles below to get you started. We also have traditional collections of poetry by poets like William Carlos Williams, more modern artists like Hieu Minh Nguyen and Danez Smith, and poetry that blends old and new sensibilities like Maria Dahvana Headley’s bombastic new translation of Beowulf.
We also have books by Amanda Gorman, whose inaugural poem for President Joe Biden “The Hill We Climb” drew near universal acclaim after her performance last year. Gorman was the sixth person to ever deliver a poem as part of the inauguration ceremonies, and at twenty-two years old is also the youngest. Other poets who have read inaugural poems include Robert Frost for John F. Kennedy, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams for Bill Clinton, and Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco for Barack Obama.
Our librarians are always available to help you find poetry to enjoy. We can assist you in finding old favorites and new discoveries, whether you're a seasoned poem reader or a newcomer. There’s poetry for everybody at the library.