April is National Poetry Month, which has quickly become the largest literary celebration in the world. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the observance, which was launched in 1996 by the Academy of National Poets and ever since then April has been set aside for those teachers, students, writers and poetry lovers who revel in the beauty and cadence of verse. Each year opens up new opportunities to experience and appreciate the art of poetry. The entire month is dedicated to reminding the public just how much poetry has contributed to individuals and society alike.
The Academy of National Poets was founded in 1934 for the sole purpose of encouraging and supporting poets and their work. The Academy has had their hands in anything and everything poetry since their establishment and their impressive contributions speak for themselves. They have founded over eight major poetry programs and events, many of which are fundamental to poets and their careers, including the annual Blaney Lecture, the “American Poets” magazine, the Poem-a-Day series and fellowships that provide over $1 million every year to poets serving in civic positions.
This year the Poetry Month festivities are lining up to be grander than ever as the Academy reported the highest engagement with its K-12 Education Program in its history. As the first week of April has come and gone, tens of thousands of educators have accessed the free teaching resources the organization offers. Close to 40,000 teachers have subscribed to their “Teach this Poem” program alone. So far, it seems, the Academy’s efforts to promote poets and their verse have been highly successful.
The Poetry & the Creative Mind gala is another particularly esteemed event put on by the Academy during National Poetry Month.
The Academy commented on all that the gala offers on their website, poets.org.
“Poetry & the Creative Mind features leading and legendary actors, dancers, artists, musicians and public figures sharing their favorite poems,” the Academy said.
“Past readers have included Uzo Aduba, Sam Beam, Wayne Brady, Glenn Close, Claire Danes, Tina Fey, Terrance Howard, Bill T. Jones, Maya Lin, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Uma Thurman and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as frequent Honorary Event Co-chair Meryl Streep.”
While the gala has been held in-person in New York City since its start in 2003, this year’s reading is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this does allow for easier participation for poetry lovers and writers alike—while only a thousand attendees would typically be invited, this year anyone can join the festivities alongside arts and culture luminaries such as Meryl Streep, Sandra Oh, Richard Blanco and Regina King.
The 2021 Poetry & the Creative Mind gala is being hosted on Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 PM CDT. Those interested in participating can register for free on the Academy of National Poets’ website.
Other ways the Academy encourages participation in National Poetry Month include subscribing to their free Poem-a-Day program and podcast, downloading the free Poetry Month poster, sharing an original work on social media using the official hashtag #PocketPoem or simply taking the time to sit down and enjoy a lovely piece of poetry.