NATIONAL POETRY MONTH… AND BEYOND!

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Here we are again, in our favourite month of the year: it’s April and we’re celebrating National Poetry Month! We’re only three days into the month and we’ve already seen so many great projects, initiatives, and resources going around on social media–we’re excited to round up some of those resources for you here, as well as to add some of our own tips into the mix.

Our NPM theme this year is time, and we are excited to have lots of time-themed content scheduled for our blog throughout the month, from ourselves as well as lots of special guests. One overarching theme you’ll see is “National Poetry Month… and beyond!” with lots of tips and tricks for how to incorporate poetry into your day-to-day routine now and throughout the year! We are also celebrating the past, and we have some amazing poets joining us to talk about the defining moments of their poetic careers, and how they have used their 10,000 hours in pursuit of poetic mastery.

If you are an educator looking to bring poetry into your classroom (now or anytime), you’re in the right place! The League has a few resources in the Teachers’ Lounge, including a list of reading recommendations for high school students. The NPM poster from the Academy of American Poets this year also features clickable images that lead to classroom prompts and lesson plans! We also highly recommend the Poetry Society’s resources for teachers, including lesson plans that incorporate award-winning poetry by young poets, and the Young Poets Network, an online platform for young poets up to the age of 25 with articles, challenges, prompts, advice, and more. If you are looking for books to help you integrate poetry into your classroom, try the Spoken Word Workbook, edited by Sheri-D Wilson,  or Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Jane Burroway. Two other great resources are this post from 2016, “4 Reasons to Start Class With a Poem Each Day,”  and this guide on one teacher’s implementation of starting class with a poem: “A Poem a Day: 30 Poems for Secondary Students.”

And without further ado, here are our first tips for how to take poetry beyond April!

Read a poem in your sudden downtime

Use your phone or tablet as a means of filling unexpexted free time with poetry: you can borrow ebooks from the library and read just one poem at a time, or you could find an online literary magazine that will have regular new content for you to explore! The Puritan, Minola Review, CV2, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Plenitude are just a few great Canadian literary magazines that have online poetry content. You can even take it a step further and share the poems you like on your own social media!

Take it down a notch: try chapbooks, instead of books

Chapbooks are a perfect way of settling into poetry when you have some free time on your day off, but not enough time to really get into a full book. Chapbooks are smaller collections of writing, usually between 10 and 25 pages, that allow writers to explore and experiment with their writing in new and exciting ways. As an added bonus, there are many artisan chapbook presses out there producing not just beautiful poetry, but aesthetically beautiful books, with hand-sewn pages and high quality paper to complement the work within! Check out Anstruther Press, Desert Pets Press, above/ground, words(on)pages, or Puddles of Sky Press–just a few of the great active chapbook presses publishing in Canada right now–to get your chapbook collection started!

Take a break or cleanse your palette with poetry

It can feel overwhelming to try to read a book of poetry, or an entire issue of a literary magazine, but don’t forget that poems themselves are often bite-sized! You can always use five minutes to read a single poem once, just to redirect your mental efforts for a moment. It’s suggested you should get up to stretch and move around throughout the day to keep your body happy–so why not keep your mind happy with a little poetry stretch every now and then, too? You can find single poems in online literary magazines, by checking out the #todayspoem hashtag on Twitter, or through something like the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day project.

Set aside poetry time

I don’t know about you, but I’m great at wasting time–sometimes, I will spend as much time looking through Netflix as I will actually watching something. One great way to make poetry a part of your day-to-day life is to set aside ten or fifteen minutes every day where you are dedicated to reading poetry in some form. Choose a usually low-key part of your day (in the morning before you start your day, right after dinner, before you watch a show, etc.) and figure out what makes those fifteen minutes feel great–for me, it’s a cup of tea and a soft blanket.

Follow your favourites

If you’re finding it difficult to find new poetry that you enjoy, a great place to start is with poets, publishers, or magazines you already love: maybe they have Twitter and they tweet about what they’re reading, or maybe they’ve shared a list of their favourite writers. This can be a great jumping off point for finding new favourites! If all else fails, in literary magazines you can read the bios of the poets you enjoy–writers will usually list a few other places they’ve been published, and that can lead you to new and exciting literary magazines, often with similar tastes and styles!

Don’t be afraid of the bandwagon

Poetry seems to be getting more and more popular in mainstream culture outlets like Buzzfeed, Bustle, and others, which is making great contemporary poetry easier to find than ever! A simple Google search will yield tons of roundups for underrated contemporary poets, must-read feminist poets, can’t-miss poetry collections by writers of colour, and other great roundups featuring a diverse and exciting array of amazing poetry! Combine this with your local library or indie bookstore, and you’ll never have a shortage of material, in April or otherwise.