Celebrating US National Poetry Month While Sheltering in Place

April, in the US, is National Poetry Month, a time when poetry readings sprout up in bookstores, schools, and cafes like seedlings pushing up through soil…. I’ll admit, this isn’t a great metaphor, but like everyone else in the US, I’ve been trying to stay at home as much as possible, which means I’ve turned my attention to turning my backyard into a gathering of sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos. Again, “gathering” doesn’t quite work as a metaphor, but to be honest, I haven’t felt much like writing of late.

Though it’s almost over, I don’t want to let the month of April pass without at least acknowledging the genre it celebrates. But how do we celebrate when we’re all supposed to be staying out of the places where poets tend to read their work? The Academy of American Poets suggests many activities at the link above, and here are a few more:

  • This one is easy: go find an online journal that publishes poetry. Read a selection, and share what you love on social media.
  • Indie bookstores are suffering, so if you can, buy a book by a speculative poet from an independent bookseller. The site IndieBound is a good place to start to find a local store—most places will ship to you. Need ideas for book titles? Most poets put their latest book titles in their bios, so if you found a poem you enjoyed in the previous item, there’s a place to start. Or go to the Elgin Awards page on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s website and look through the past nominees—lots to choose from there.
  • A good number of poets are posting videos of their poems online. Watch and share.
  • National Poetry Month isn’t just about reading poetry. Try writing a poem yourself. You might write in the voice of a wronged character in a fairy tale, or consider how inhabitants of another planet might use imagery familiar to them to express love or sorrow or hope.

How did you celebrate National Poetry Month? How might we keep celebrating even after the month has passed?

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