20 YEARS OF NATIONAL POETRY MONTH IN CANADA

In case you didn’t already know, April is the League’s favourite time of year! It’s National Poetry Month, and this year is extra special because we get to celebrate its twentieth anniversary! Established in Canada in April 1998 by the League of Canadian Poets, NPM brings together schools, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and poets from across the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in Canada’s culture. This milestone anniversary comes at a time when poetry’s popularity is at an all-time high and we hope the celebrations will be NPM’s biggest yet.

Traditionally, our Aprils have been themed celebrations: Poets in our Communities, Poetry in the Future, The Road, Time, and Poetry without Borders to name a few. This year’s all about championing poetry in each and every way; to celebrate the past, present, and future of poetry in Canada and of National Poetry Month.  Let’s start by revisiting the ways we – and all the Poetry Cities and communities across the country – commended poets, poetry, and poetry lovers during National Poetry Months passed:

Time (2017):  In 2017, we took the time to celebrate your drafts, your notes, your failed projects, your future successes; the journey. We shared the most important moments from our literary histories and got excited about the literary future. We thought about how to find the time to fit more poetry into our everyday lives. Here’s one suggestion that stuck with us:

Read a poem in your sudden downtime

Use your phone or tablet as a means of filling unexpected 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 PuritanMinola ReviewCV2Cosmonauts 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!

Food (2015):  Inspired by Rachel Rose‘s inaugural speech as Vancouver’s 2015 Poet Laureate, this NPM was all about food! The ways in which “food is personal, political, sensual and powerful” (Rose), how it nourishes, grounds us, and connects us – much like poetry. Without food,  as without poetry, we go hungry. Intrigued? Check out Vanessa Shields’ blog on this very topic.

Fifteenth Anniversary! (2013): Back in 2013, Lesley Fletcher – the League’s Executive Director – shared one poem written by a League member each day of April on the blog. She fondly remembers her favourite selection, Loving an Old Dog by Peter Chiykowski. Lesley has a thirteen year-old goldendoodle named Marley so she certainly knows what it’s like loving an old dog (and so do the rest of the office staff who get to visit with Marley when he comes to work)! Grab a box of tissues and read it here.

Poets in Our Communities (2004): Poets are everywhere! Poets are writers but they are also teachers, librarians, publishers, gardeners, chefs, researchers, business owners, sales associates, students, parents, siblings, and neighbours. In 2004, we reminded each other how many people in our lives are touched by poetry – and how many poets live among us! Not quite like that old saying “you’re a poet and you didn’t even know it” but still, a recognition of the sheer amount of creativity – sometimes hidden – in all of our communities!

The 2nd Annual National Poetry Month (2000): The Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the National Library of Canada called on Canadians to celebrate World Poetry Day for the first time this year! Fittingly, the League saw this year’s NPM as Canada’s poetry awakening! We placed poetry on transit systems across Canada to extend the reach of our beloved genre.

What are we, the League of Canadian Poets, doing for #NPM18 you might ask? We’ll be sharing a new blog post each day this April because we just can’t get enough poetry in this, our favourite month! You can expect guest posts from our incredible members and working poets, reading list inspiration galore, guides to Canada’s literary contests, and more. Of course, we’ve challenged cities across Canada to get their local politicians engaged with poetry (you can see who accepted our challenge here). We’ll be announcing the winner of 2018’s National Broadsheet Contest, the winners of the 2018 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize, and the shortlists for our 2018 Book Awards as well as the 2018 Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award. We’ll be tweeting and Facebook-ing at @CanadianPoets. Poem in Your Pocket Day falls on April 26, 2018; our pockets will be filled! But most of all, we can’t wait to what you are up to this April. Our events calendar is getting more crowded every day (it’s a great place to find poetry goings-on near you). If you’re hosting an event for NPM, fill out this form and email it to info@poets.ca to be added.

 

OH, AND, we’ll be reading poetry – lots of it!