National Poetry Month is observed in the United States of America every year in April. The Academy of American Poets, a national organization promoting poets and poetry, introduced the event in 1996. They inform the local poetry events that are going to be observed in April to the readers through their official website, Poets.org.
The organization fosters readership through outreach activities such as Black History Month, Women’s History Month, National Poetry Month, etc. According to Carolyn Forché, the Academy of American Poets is “the most important organization in our country to keep poetry alive and in our culture.” It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in New York in 1934.
Explore National Poetry Month
The Academy of American Poets administers several programs and one of them is the National Poetry Month. The idea of celebrating a month-long event featuring the art of poetry and poets was born after the success of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The organizers wanted to increase the poetry readership throughout the country.
In 1995, they convened a group of publishers, booksellers, librarians, other literary organizations, poets, and teachers to discuss the need of a monthlong to celebrate this art form. Thus, the month of April, after the Women’s History Month (held each year in March) was considered as the National Poetry Month to increase awareness and appreciation of poetic works. The event was launched the next year, in 1996.
The celebration of National Poetry Month has established itself naturally. In the past, the success of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March led to the growth of the celebration of poetry month in April that was launched later.
After 1996, poetry lovers across the country supported the event as well as the officials. Not only that, publishers, booksellers, and literary organizations collaborated in the month’s success story by promoting poetic works.
Publishers often choose this month for new releases. In schools, teachers and librarians give special attention to poetry during the month. Some stores and organizations also hold special readings in April.
The poet and publisher of Big Game Books, Maureen Thorson held National Poetry Writing Month, best-known as NaPoWriMo, coinciding with the National Poetry Month in the United States of America and Canada. This project is held annually in April. In 2009, the American Academy of Poets attached the project with a fundraising drive for the organization.
In this way, for manifold impetus, National Poetry Month is considered among one of the successful literary events in the US.
Timeline of Remarkable Events
After the initial success of the poetry month, the Academy of American Poets took special initiatives to mark this month. Let’s look at some of the remarkable events observed during National Poetry Month previously.
Poetry Month Joins the American Poetry & Literacy Project
In this year, the organization joined the American Poetry & Literacy Project to distribute 100,000 poetry books from New York to California in April. On April 22, President Clinton and the First Lady hosted a gala at the White House featuring the Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.
Voting for Poets
The Academy invited people to vote for the poets they wanted to have a postage stamp in 2001 National Poetry Month. More than 10,000 votes were cast. Langston Hughes was the winner of the poll. In January 2002, the United States Postal Service issued a Langston Hughes stamp.
To mark the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month, the Empire State Building was lit with blue lights on April 5, 2005.
2021 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month. This year, the Academy of American Poets is going to hold its first-ever virtual Poetry & the Creative Mind gala on April 29. They have also provided the hashtag, #pocketpoem on Poem in Your Pocket Day to be shared on the same date.
National Poetry Day
William Sieghart, a British entrepreneur, publisher, philanthropist, and the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, founded National Poetry Day in 1994. It is celebrated on the first or second Thursday of October in the United Kingdom. This event is coordinated by the Forward Arts Foundation. The 2021 National Poetry Day falls on 7th October and the theme is Choice.
National Poetry Month in Canada
In Canada, National Poetry Month has been celebrated since 1998 annually in April. This event is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. The theme of the 2021 National Poetry month of Canada is Resilience.
World Poetry Day
UNESCO declared March 21 as World Poetry Day in 1999. The UNESCO session declared that the day would “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional, and international poetry movements.”
National Poetry Month in the UK
The Celtic bard Jim MacCool founded the National Poetry Month in the UK in 2000 and it is observed in October.
The celebration of National Poetry Month in the US has sparked debate among writers. In 1999, poet and academic Charles Bernstein in his short essay, “Against National Poetry Month As Such” criticized this event by saying, “April is the cruelest month for poetry.” According to other critics, National Poetry Month trivializes poetry to a certain degree. They say it is a consumerist tactic to flood the market with poetry books within a few weeks. It overwhelms the readers but has no great impact on readers as such.
No matter what the critics say, it is a month to discover the works unfamiliar to poetry lovers. Poetry is indeed a kind of art form that should be read throughout the year. Those who are fond of poetry, need no special occasion to express their thirst for a poetic draught. The National Poetry Month is just another month for them to read poetry on a silent evening, with a cup of coffee, and the softness of the breeze.
Celebrate National Poetry Month with Poem Analysis
Let’s celebrate National Poetry Month this year here with us. In this month-long celebration, we are providing a list of 30 poems that you can read on each day of April. Poetry lovers are already familiar with some of the poems in this list, we know. Still, it is worth reading the poem again and referring to our analysis to understand the nuances of it.
Let’s dive deeper with us and read about 30 different poems in the National Poetry Month.
- April 1: The Anactoria Poem by Sappho
- April 2: The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
- April 3: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
- April 4: We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks
- April 5: One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
- April 6: Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson
- April 7: Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes
- April 8: Daddy by Sylvia Plath
- April 9: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens
- April 10: Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
- April 11: Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas
- April 12: Kubla Khan (Xanadu) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- April 13: Am Moor by Lucie Brock-Broido
- April 14: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
- April 15: Mock Orange by Louise Glück
- April 16: We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- April 17: [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by E.E Cummings
- April 18: Poetry by Marianne Moore
- April 19: If— by Rudyard Kipling
- April 20: homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton
- April 21: The Tyger by William Blake
- April 22: To a Mouse by Robert Burns
- April 23: Rape Joke by Patricia Lockwood
- April 24: This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin
- April 25: Sonnet 18 – Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? by William Shakespeare
- April 26: Power by Audre Lorde
- April 27: Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara
- April 28: In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
- April 29: Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
- April 30: The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
In the United States and Canada, National Poetry Month is celebrated each year in April. It was introduced in the US in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.
National Poetry Month is a special occasion observed each year in April to celebrate the importance of poets and poetry.
The purpose of National Poetry Month is to spread awareness of poetry in the United States. This occasion promotes poetry and its importance in the modern world.
We can celebrate this occasion in several ways that are not only limited to reading and appreciating poetic works. Engaging with this art form wholeheartedly is the best way to appreciate this month-long celebration. Poetry Lovers can also celebrate this National Poetry Month by diving deeper into the world of poetry here with us.
The Academy of American Poets started this poetry event in 1996 in the United States.