How to Celebrate National Poetry Month

The 2018 National Poetry Month poster, designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher, celebrates typography and is suggestive of concrete poetry and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

National Poetry Month began in 1996 through the Academy of American Poets. In their own words, “it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.”

Here are 30 ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month here in Manhattan, KS, starting on April 1. If you try one, post a picture in the comments or share on social media, tagging @englishkstate!

  1. The totally boss Tracy K. Smith is curating the Poem-A-Day for the Academy of American Poets. Sign up to receive a daily poem in your inbox.
  2. Read a poem aloud to your friends.
  3. Go to the Manhattan Public Library and get a library card (if you don’t have one), and check out one of the amazing collections of poetry they have.
  4. Chalk the sidewalk with a line from a poem that you love to share it with others.
  5. Memorize a poem. It’s hard. I know. But then it’s in your brain basically forever.
  6. Read a poem aloud to a friend, roommate, romantic partner, or English teacher. English teachers will think you are cool. Your friends might also.
  7. Hand-copy a poem you really love into a journal. You will learn totally new things about it by doing that.
  8. Read this poem, and if you see me on campus you can ask what line from it I have tattooed on my arm.
  9. Make a cake that Emily Dickinson once baked.
  10. Print a poem and doodle all around it. Now you’ve made art and can hang it in your kitchen above your cooling coconut cake.
  11. Write an exquisite corpse poem with friends.
  12. Speaking of friends, they are great. Invite them over to share their poems and give each other praise and advice on the poems.
  13. Attend the next Driptorch event at Arrow Coffee on April 13, 7pm, and enjoy an awesome cocktail or coffee and hear awesome poetry.
  14. Support your local bookseller, Claflin Books, and stop by to buy a book of poems.
  15. Attend the annual Stover Poetry Recitation at the Manhattan Public Library on April 15, 1:30-3:00 pm.
  16. Enjoy spring and hang your hammock between two trees and recall that poem you already memorized or enjoy that book you just checked out from the Library or bought at Claflin. That warmth you feel is part sun, part poetry.
  17. Play an instrument? Set a poem you love to music.
  18. Dance? Dance that poem. I’m not even sure what that means, but you should try it.
  19. Start a blog where you pair beloved poems with snack foods. I personally like to read T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” with Cheetos and William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” with a perfectly ripe peach.
  20. Write a fan letter to a poet you love, alive or dead. If they’re alive, send it.
  21. Attend the Children’s and Adolescent Literature (ChALC) conference on April 21 to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak about work, including her verse novel Brown Girl Dreaming. Free preregistration available as of April 9.
  22. Write a review of a poetry book on Goodreads.
  23. Hear the Kansas Poet Laureate, Kevin Rabas (a K-State English alum!) read from his work as part of the Little Apple Lit Festival on April 7 at Manhattan Public Library.
  24. Read the poems in K-State’s literary journal, Touchstone.
  25. Re-read Where the Sidewalk Ends because those poems are great and full of weird joy.
  26. Sign up for a poetry class next fall! It is fun and basically makes this month’s awesomeness happen for 15 whole weeks.
  27. Stop by the English Department in ECS 108 for National Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day and get a poem for your pocket. It’s a real day. Celebrate it.
  28. Write a poem about your mom. Mother’s Day is coming up. She’ll appreciate it. Maybe send flowers, too.
  29. Follow a poet on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Sometimes they say other cool and smart things throughout the year in addition to poems.
  30. Watch Dead Poets Society and feel excited about Shakespeare and poetry, and also sad about Robin Williams. Conflicting emotions is normal in both life and poems.

Traci Brimhall, Assistant Professor

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