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Get down with poetry this April

NationalPoetryMonth.NTWhen: April 1 – 30

What: When states take their school budgets to the chopping block, arts education can be one of the first things cut. But the arts, specifically writing, have a longstanding and incredibly diverse tradition to its credit. American poets, for example, span such a wide range of styles and time that one person might pick Walt Whitman as their favorite, while another could just as easily pick contemporary poet Maya Angelou. During April, celebrate America’s past and present poets and encourage a whole new generation during National Poetry Month.

Background: Created in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, this monthlong event seeks to increase the presence and appreciation of poetry in mainstream culture through events and promotions that discuss and showcase the nation’s diverse poetic history.

Story Pitch: Because this event encourages all people to promote and participate in poetry, everyone from teachers to publishers can get involved. Educators in language and creative arts can engage students with poetry by helping them to view it as a living way students can describe their own stories and experiences. Students should not only be encouraged to read poems, but to create their own or work collaboratively on pieces that can be put up in classrooms or published in school papers. Teachers who work in the fine arts can integrate poems and other creative writing in their classes by having students create a piece of art inspired by a poem, or vice versa. Booksellers and publishers will want to promote the diversity of poetry they offer, ranging from classic and modern works to books of poetry intended for younger readers. Small press printers and publishers can also promote themselves as a resource for designing and distributing works of poetry created by local schools and communities.

Story Hook: Contemporary poet Mark Doty argues that at a time when the world seems unstable, it’s even more important for people to express themselves and understand one another through poetry. What are some other reasons why poetry and the arts are relevant to modern culture? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What’s causing school boards to cut arts programs?
  • What makes poetry unique as a form of expression in comparison to a story or song lyrics? How do these forms overlap?
  • How do young students and adults benefit from creating their own poetry and other forms of writing?
  • Where do poetry and popular culture cross paths and how has one impacted the other?

Tips: Provide contact info for a poetry scholar and a modern or slam style poet, as they can share widely different perspectives on the art.

Resources:

The Academy of American Poets
(212) 274-0343
academy(at)poets.org
www.poets.org

The National Endowment for the Arts
(202) 682-5400
webmgr(at)arts.gov
www.nea.gov

The Poetry Foundation
(312) 787-7070
mail(at)poetryfoundation.org
www.poetryfoundation.org

Poetry Society of America
(212) 254-9628
www.poetrysociety.org

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
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