National Poetry Month: It’s a Bigger Deal than You Think

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Every so often I like to amuse myself by scrolling through a website that identifies special days, weeks, and months during the year that honor a person, event, product, or virtue. For example, we all know that April 1 is April Fools’ Day, but I was surprised to learn recently that April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. If you are so inclined, you can celebrate Winston Churchill Day on April 9 and National Pecan Day on April 14. And who wouldn’t want to host a party on April 17 for Bat Appreciation Day?

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Exploring Poetry about Families features poems by Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, and Tim McBride.

April is also a time for commemorating a number of important (and maybe a few not-so- important) occasions. This is Keep America Beautiful Month, but it also happens to be National Welding Month. No wonder, then, that someone had the good sense to designate it National Humor Month as well.

If you love reading or writing poetry, you probably know that April is also National Poetry Month. It was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, whose website calls it the “largest literary celebration in the world.”

Every year, teachers and students are joined by poets, bloggers, librarians, publishers, art organizations, government agencies, and education leaders to honor poetry and the people who create it. The Academy has a free National Poetry Month poster you can order, and offers a list called 30 ways to celebrate national poetry month. Their suggestions range from reading about different poetic forms to signing up for a poetry workshop or starting a poetry reading group.

Curriculum Pathways offers over 60 resources to heighten your celebration of poetry—in April and beyond. Middle school readers might enjoy the poems of the three American poets featured in Exploring Poetry about Families.

With resources such as Lines from Canterbury Tales, high school students can read and study great poems by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Keats, Yeats, and other poets in our English poetry series. Students learn about techniques the poets use to make the sound of the poem enhance its meaning.

Rhyme scheme of the opening lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Rhyme scheme of the opening lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

They analyze visual elements and respond to questions in preparation for constructing interpretive statements about the poem.

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So National Poetry Month is indeed a big deal. That’s because poetry is, or at least should be, a big deal. To read a great poem, to be moved by its beauty or power, is a remarkable experience worth celebrating year round. Here’s how Emily Dickinson described it: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

Check out these additional poetry resources from Curriculum Pathways:

Exploring Poetry about Nature
Exploring Poetry about Sports
Strategies for Reading Poetry
Latino Poetry Café

 

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Terry Hardison

Terry Hardison oversees the development of English language arts resources for Curriculum Pathways. Prior to joining SAS, Terry worked for 21 years as a teacher and as a district-level English language arts supervisor.

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