On National Poetry Month

From Poetry Magazine

Featuring Jen Benka, Edward Hirsch, Olivia Morgan, Ali Liebegott, Amanda Johnston, Samantha Giles, P. Scott Cunningham, Jeff Shotts, Tyler Meier, Andrew White, Richard Blanco, and Brenda Shaughnessy.


This April marks the twentieth anniversary of National Poetry Month, a celebration founded by the Academy of American Poets with input from other nonprofit poetry organizations and publishers. The original aim remains today: to create a time-bound occasion in which we might work together to spotlight poets and poetry. Many publishers take advantage of the month to release their poetry titles; many libraries and schools celebrate the art form with special events that inspire young people to engage with poetry, some for the first time. More and more, National Poetry Month has become an event to inspire the next generation of readers, with thousands of grade school and high school students participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 21 this year) and other educational projects. The hope has always been that this increased visibility for poetry might spark an interest in readers that would carry forward into the rest of the year and even last a lifetime.

Of course the month also inspires critics to question whether a month-long observance of an art form is a kind of boosterism. While the month is a platform, poetry is not a product. There's no packaging the poetic imagination and the wilds of poetry communities across the globe that celebrate the art form regularly. National Poetry Month is what we make it. It is a concentrated time to explore the ways in which poets' work changes language and lives. This year, the Academy of American Poets asked poets, leaders of poetry organizations, and publishers to respond to the question: What should poets and poetry readers be thinking about or doing for the next thirty days? Their responses are below.

 Jen Benka, Executive Director, Academy of American Poets

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.