5 Easy Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Did you know that National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world? This makes it a perfect time to celebrate the contributions from local poets and encourage others to give poetry a try.

Popular children’s writer and poet Kenn Nesbitt explains that good poetry always makes the reader feel something: “A good poem will give you goose bumps or butterflies in your stomach, or it will make you cry, or it will make you laugh. Or a good poem will make you feel better when you are sad or grieving.”

Family Read Alouds

For families and kids, Nesbitt recommends finding a new favorite poet or returning to an old favorite like Shel Silverstein and sharing poetry together by reading it aloud. And speaking of Shel Silverstein, did you know there are hundreds of YouTube videos featuring Silverstein and others reading his poetry? Bring favorites from A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends to life for your children, or better yet, check out a copy of one of his many books of poems from the Library.

Dear Poetry Project

Another way to introduce children and teens to poetry is to encourage them to participate in the Dear Poet Project from the Academy of American Poets. This multimedia education project invites young poets in grades 5-12 to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets who serve on the Academy’s Board of Chancellors.

Students simply watch a video of one of the poets reading and discussing one of their poems, and write them a letter in response and send it in by April 30. Letters will be considered for publication, and some students will receive replies from the poets. Full details are available on the Dear Poet Project website.

Poetry Readings & Activities

Attend a local poetry reading or other event to really experience the power of poetry and support local writers in the process. Here are a just a few we found around northern Colorado.

Crossings: A Multimedia Poetry Reading
April 7, 7:00-8:30PM
Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, 316 Willow St.

Crossings is “an experimental multimedia reading focusing on how the language within poetry shifts and changes with the merging of different art mediums.” The collaborative project includes various writers, artists, dancers and musicians.

Photo: Colorado State University, English Dept.

National Poetry Month at Old Firehouse Books
April 12, 6:00-7:00PM
Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St.

The bookstore features two new poets: New Mexico senator Bill O’Neill and BookBar event coordinator Russell Brakefield will both be celebrating the release of their new poetry collections, The Freedom of the Ignored and Field Recordings, respectively. They will be joined by local poet Sasha Steensen.

Poetry Café
April 21, 11:00AM – 2:00PM
Loveland Museum, Foote Gallery, 503 N. Lincoln Ave.

An open house for all-ages to celebrate Earth Day by creating eco-poetry. Several writing stations, writing prompts, and games will jumpstart your creativity. Local poets will be on-hand to assist and celebrate your work.

Creative Writing Reading Series: Ross Gay
April 26, 7:30-9:00PM
CSU Lory Student Center, Cherokee Ballroom

Ross Gay is a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and author of three highly acclaimed books of poetry, most recently Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. He teaches at Indiana University. You can check out his book through Prospector.

Photo: Colorado State University, English Dept.

Poem in Your Pocket Day
April 26, All Day

The idea is simple: grab a poem you love, carry it with you, and share it with friends, family, and coworkers!

Friday Night Writes Poetry Slam
April 27, 6:30-8:30PM
Harmony Library, 4616 S. Shields St.

Local teen and adult poets compete during this celebration of National Poetry Month. Audience participation is highly encouraged. Poets interested in participation must register in advance by calling 970-221-6740.

Slamogadro Poetry Slam
April 30, Signups begin at 7:00PM
Avogadro’s Number, 605 S. Mason St.

This slam poetry competition happens at Avogadro’s Number the final Sunday of every month.

Fort Collins Poet Laureate

Add your vote for the next Fort Collins Poet Laureate. The city poet laureate program, hosted by Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, is seeking public input into who will be named the next poet voice of the community. Voting for one of the finalists, Natalie Giarratano and Jack Martin, is open through April 13. Learn about the finalists, read their selections, and vote online.

Books by Local Poets

Check out any number of books from local poets through the Library! One place to start is with our Biblioboard collection of past Battle of the Bards poetry submissions and winners. These have been archived in our own Biblioboard collection.

Other local poets’ work can be found in 811 area of the library shelves.

What other great ideas have you come across to celebrate National Poetry Month? Share them with us!

And, if we missed any other great poetry events going on around town, feel free to add it in the comments section below. Happy #NationalPoetryMonth!