National Poetry Month

Juan Felipe Herrera, National Poetry Month

national
poetry month
April 2015
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about the celebration

about the celebration

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry's vital place in our culture.

Join the celebration by requesting a free poster and displaying it proudly. Encourage young people to participate in our Dear Poet project or Poem in Your Pocket Day. Follow poetry events taking place nationwide at @POETSorg, and tweet about your own using #npm15. 

National Poetry Month

download the national poetry month logo

sponsors & partners 

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Dear Poet 2015

A multimedia educational project that invites young people to write letters in response to poems shared by our Chancellors.

learn more

Naomi Shihab Nye

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Thousands of individuals across the U.S. will carry a poem in their pocket on April 30, 2015. 
 

find a poem

Poetry & the Creative Mind

Our annual gala was held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 15, 2015.
 

read more

 

upcoming events

date
Apr 28 2015

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CELEBRATION (POETRY SOCIETY OF AMERICA)

The PSA joins Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in hosting a poetry bash for National Poetry Month, with support from media sponsors Academy of American Poets, Cave Canem Poets, and Wave Books. Readings by Rickey Laurentiis, Cate Marvin, Sharon Olds, Matthew Rohrer, Danez Smith, and Wendy XuCo-presented with Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Co-sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, Cave Canem Foundation, and Wave Books.

7:00pm
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
126 Crosby Street
10012 New York, New York
Apr 28 2015

RUSH HOUR READING NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: POETRY IN MOTION

RUSH HOUR READING
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: POETRY IN MOTION/LA™
with Kate Gale, Eloise Klein Healey, Robin Coste Lewis, and Luis RodriguezThe PSA joins Los Angeles Metro, our partner in Poetry in Motion/LA™, for a celebration of National Poetry Month, featuring new LA Poetry in Motion poets Kate Gale and Robin Coste Lewis, as well as Eloise Klein Healey and Poet Laureate of Los Angeles Luis Rodriguez.Co-sponsored by Metro Art at LA Metro, as part of Metro Presentswhich showcases free arts and cultural programs at historic Union Station.

4:00pm
Union Station East
800 N Alameda St
90012 Los Angeles, California
Apr 28 2015

Rush Hour Reading

In collaboration with the Poetry Society of America, we are pleased to present Los Angeles-based poets Poet Laureate of Los Angeles Luis J. Rodriguez, Robin Coste Lewis, Kate Gale and Eloise Klein Healy (2012 Poet Laureate of Los Angeles) who will give readings of their work in celebration of National Poetry Month. The poets will be available for conversation following the readings. Free copies of past Poetry in Motion/LA™ bookmarks will be available for the public. The free, all ages event will take place in Union Station East. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/968659523168715/

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Union Station East
800 Alameda St.
90012 Los Angeles, California

Poems by Our Chancellors

Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Burning the Old Year
Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
The Weakness
Toi Derricotte, 1941
That time my grandmother dragged me
through the perfume aisles at Saks, she held me up
by my arm, hissing, "Stand up,"
through clenched teeth, her eyes
bright as a dog's
cornered in the light.
She said it over and over,
as if she were Jesus,
and I were dead.  She had been
solid as a tree,
a fur around her neck, a
light-skinned matron whose car was parked, who walked
  on swirling
marble and passed through
brass openings—in 1945.
There was not even a black
elevator operator at Saks.
The saleswoman had brought velvet
leggings to lace me in, and cooed,
as if in service of all grandmothers.
My grandmother had smiled, but not
hungrily, not like my mother
who hated them, but wanted to please,
and they had smiled back, as if
they were wearing wooden collars.
When my legs gave out, my grandmother 
dragged me up and held me like God
holds saints by the
roots of the hair.  I begged her
to believe I couldn't help it.  Stumbling,
her face white
with sweat, she pushed me through the crowd, rushing
away from those eyes
that saw through
her clothes, under
her  skin, all the way down
to the transparent 
genes confessing.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
A Green Crab's Shell
Mark Doty, 1953
Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like—

though evidence
suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works
of armament, crowned
by the foreclaws'

gesture of menace
and power. A gull's
gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber
—size of a demitasse—
open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.
Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer's firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened
into this—
if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,
similarly,
revealed some sky.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Personals
C. D. Wright, 1949
Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
tomorrow I leave to El Paso, Texas
Juan Felipe Herrera, 1948
see my brother-in-law with a styled shirt

in spite of his cancer below 

then a small dinner in the evening the next day

no one knows except I may be on the road

Mesquite where my father settled in '31

forty-five minutes west then a left you go in

sister Sarita waits for me on Abby Street

after decades in separate families we just met 

now I hear the clock snap I swipe an ant

time to walk my dogs five blocks and back

a different route to soothe the mind

it is the same one but I am hopeful
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Lyric
Khaled Mattawa, 1964
Will answers be found
like seeds
planted among rows of song?

Will mouths recognize
the hunger
in their voices, all mouths in unison,

the ah in harmony, the way words
of hope are more
than truth when whispered?

Will we turn to each other and ask,
how long
has it been...how long since?

A world now, a world then
and each
is seeking a foothold, trying

to remember when we looked
at one another
and found—A world again—Surely

what we long for is at the wheel 
contending.

Surely, we'll soon hear 
its unearthly groan.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Matriot Acts, Act I [History of Mankind]
Anne Waldman, 1945
you no longer believe in anything
movement of train, mauve waves
grammar's anomie
gets you down or
war at the back and crown of head
PsyOps, o chicken little the sky! the sky!
o the fallen sky an edge of blue
hanging but
still breathing those colors?
a garden broken & restored many times
how often trying to leave it, bend away
words from that beautiful throat
listen or break or oscillate or
clamor as opposed to "read about"
could you be my model human being
up there on the dais?
o you, she...maybe he's the one
& we came back from the cinema
glow behind our tears
and you saying a woman, a woman!
how tragic to be such slender thread of a woman
where was I being led?
more people thick in space
in constant motion
twisted around a clock
solar wind, solar heat, sociable matrix
it's an atavistic mixed-up dream
and stirs the branches
high in Freedom Park
it was the voice of a desultory fragment
of speech now, talking about "state" and "union"
how darkness turns at the wrist
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Praise Song for the Day
Elizabeth Alexander, 1962

A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues. 

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, 
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
 
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, 

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, 
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

 

Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Exile
Alicia Ostriker, 1937
The downward turning touch
the cry of time
fire falling without sound
plunge my hand in the wound

children marching and dying
all that I do is a crime
because I do not reach
their mouths silently crying

my boychild reaches with his mouth
it is easy, being a mother
his skin is tender and soft
kisses stitch us together

we love as long as we may
then come years without kisses
when he will turn away
not to waste breath

when I too will fall
embracing a pillow at night
touching the stone of exile
reaching my hand to death
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Slight Tremor
Linda Gregerson, 1950
The fine fourth finger
of his fine right hand,

just slightly, when
he's tracking our path

on his iPhone or
repairing the clasp

on my watch I
will not think about

the myelin sheath.
Slight tremor only,

transient, so
the flaw in the

pavement must
have been my

mother's back.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
After David Hammons
Claudia Rankine

In the darkened moment a body gifted with the blue light of a flashlight
enters with levity, with or without assumptions, doubts, with desire,
the beating heart, disappointment, with desires—

Stand where you are.

You begin to move around in search of the steps it will take before you
are thrown back into your own body, back into your own need to be found.

Destinations are lost. You raise yourself. No one else is seeking.

You exhaust yourself looking into the blue light. All day blue burrows
the atmosphere. What doesn't belong with you won't be seen.

You could build a world out of need or you could hold everything
back and see. You could hold everything back. You hold back the black.

You hold everything black. You hold this body's lack. You hold yourself
back until nothing's left but the dissolving blues of metaphor.

Poems by Our Chancellors
next
The Chair She Sits In
Alberto Ríos, 1952

I’ve heard this thing where, when someone dies,
People close up all the holes around the house—

The keyholes, the chimney, the windows,
Even the mouths of the animals, the dogs and the pigs.

It’s so the soul won’t be confused, or tempted.
It’s so when the soul comes out of the body it’s been in

But that doesn’t work anymore,
It won’t simply go into another one

And try to make itself at home,
Pretending as if nothing happened.

There’s no mystery—it’s too much work to move on.
It isn’t anybody’s fault. A soul is like any of us.

It gets used to things, especially after a long life.
The way I sit in my living-room chair,

The indentation I have put in it now
After so many years—that’s how I understand.

It’s my chair,
And I know how to sit in it.

Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt
Jane Hirshfield, 1953

The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream.
We look at each other there with the old joy.
It was always her gift to bring me into the present—

Which sleeps, changes, awakens, dresses, leaves.

Happiness and unhappiness
differ as a bucket hammered from gold differs from one of pressed tin,
this painting proposes.

Each carries the same water, it says.

Poems by Our Chancellors
next
Dusting
Marilyn Nelson, 1946
Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.

For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.

My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.
Poems by Our Chancellors
next
At the Equinox
Arthur Sze, 1950
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars. 
I have no theory of radiance, 

                but after rain evaporates 
off pine needles, the needles glisten. 

In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
and, at the equinox, bathe in its gleam. 

Using all the tides of starlight, 
                we find 
                vicissitude is our charm.

On the mud flats off Homer, 
I catch the tremor when waves start to slide back in; 

and, from Roanoke, you carry 
                the leafing jade smoke of willows. 

Looping out into the world, we thread 
                and return. The lapping waves 

cover an expanse of mussels clustered on rocks; 
and, giving shape to what is unspoken, 
		
                forsythia buds and blooms in our arms.

recent news and updates

Apr 27 2015
Today we spotlight Poetry Minute, a collaboration between The University of Arkansas Press and NPR affiliate KUAF in celebration of National Poetry Month. Every day in April, KUAF will air a poem read by a poetry enthusiast with a Northwest Arkansas connection. The segments will air four times a day on KUAF and be archived on their website, kuaf.com.
Apr 20 2015
Steven Reigns. Photo credit: Tony Coelho
The city of West Hollywood is celebrating National Poetry Month with a variety of events and workshops to celebrate the art of the written word. Steven Reigns, who was selected as West Hollywood's first official City Poet in 2014, curated this month’s line-up of events and conceived of the Lamppost Banners project.

twitter

Apr 28 2015
“RT @POETSorg: Teachers, there are a few more days left for your students to participate in this year's Dear Poet Project: http://t.co/yxBa9…”
Apr 28 2015
“Jesse Couldn't Stop for Death #blogtour #giveaway #npm15 http://t.co/IGAkJYLB1i via @koryshrum”
Apr 28 2015
“Discover I ♥ E-Poetry on #NPM15: "Galatea" by Emily Short http://t.co/PR9FQjCYpo #elit #poetry #dh”
Apr 28 2015
“RT @brainpicker: "We have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places." YES http://t.co/fPDCm4QkRu #npm15”
Apr 28 2015
“RT @fsgbooks: Dawn, offered again, and heather sweetens the air. I sip at nothing. —Carol Ann Duffy #npm15 http://t.co/ZQyaFL93SY http://t.…”
Apr 28 2015
“RT @POETSorg: Today's NPM spotlight is Poetry Minute, a celebration of #npm15 with a poem aired @KUAF every day in April: http://t.co/SZ6WU…”