April is National Poetry Month, which was first introduced by the Academy American Poets in 1996. In that year, President Bill Clinton, in his presidential proclamation praised National Poetry Month saying that it “offers us a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poetry” (1).
Of course, the association of poetry and the month of April goes back much farther than 1996, and it is certainly more than just an American tradition. For example, in 1845, while visiting Italy, British poet Robert Browning began his great poem Home Thoughts From Abroad as follows:
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In addition to springtime, one of the favorite topics of poets is poetry itself. As you might guess, they don’t give dry dictionary definitions:
Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers. – Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Poetry is either language lit up by life or life lit up by language. -Peter Porter
Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. -Robert Frost
Today’s Challenge: Quench Your Thirst for Verse
What are 50 words that come time mind that you associate with the word “poetry”? Brainstorm a long list of words or phrases that come to your mind when you think of the word “poetry.” Write down anything that comes to mind: poetic terms, memorable poetic lines, great poems, favorite poets, or just words that you think are especially poetic.
On this the 26th day of the month we are reminded of the 26 letters of the alphabet — the letters we use to write and to read poetry. Imagine you were to create a poetry ABC book, featuring your 26 poetry-related words, names, or phrases. The only stipulation is that you must cover all 26 letters of the alphabet, and you must be able to explain how each of the items on your list is poetry-related.
To help prime your poetic pump of ideas, here is a list of poetry-related terms from Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary:
alliteration, ballad, couplet, double dactyl, enjambment, found poem, genre, haiku, iambic pentameter, juxtaposition, kenning, lipogram, metonymy, narrative poetry, onomatopoeia, persona, quatrain, rhyme scheme, sonnet, tone, understatement, villanelle, wit, xerox poetry, ya-du, zeugma (2)
(Common Core Writing Language)
Quotation of the Day: Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. -Robert Frost
2-Hirsch, Edward. A Poet’s Glossary. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.