Looking forward to National Poetry Month Best month all year long
– A Haiku by Logan Brody, amateur poet and public media enthusiast
April is National Poetry Month! With the springtime comes a renewed sense of creative energy, and there’s no better time to start exploring the wide world of poetry – one of the oldest art forms known to humankind. Haiku, sonnet, spoken word, epic, limerick, ode… the list of poetic forms goes on and on. Poetry can be used to voice our innermost thoughts, feelings and impulses, or to interpret the world around us through vivid description and inventive wordplay. Poetry is a wonderful way to explore literacy and self expression with children of all ages, and is a great “anywhere, anytime” activity, needing little more than brainpower and a willingness to share.
Enjoy and appreciate poetry in all its forms this month with the educational articles, activities, profiles on notable poets, and more below. And every Friday, catch our Learning at Home block from 12-3pm featuring PBS’ Poetry in America!
Grades 3-5 Learn new techniques to help students make personal connections to poetry in this 20-minute video. Jonathan Holden’s 4th-grade class discusses poems in small groups, create “puzzles” and write their own poems to connect to texts.
Reading a Poem
Grades 6-12 In this video, poet Sonia Sanchez demonstrates that poetry can be a powerful way to express ideas. Poetry readers must use various thinking skills to analyze poetic images.
The Anthology of Rap
Grades 6-12 This video explores how rap is treated as poetry in the book “The Anthology of Rap.” Students will explore the history of rap music as lyrical poetry and understand the difference between rap music and hip hop culture. Lyrical poetry is a type of poetry with rhyming schemes that express personal and emotional feelings. This form of poetry does not have to rhyme and contemporarily is set to a musical beat.
Poetry Everywhere Collection
Grades 7-12 Explore the power of language, look at the world with a fresh sense of wonder, and build reading and writing skills. These video segments, drawn from the PBS Poetry Everywhere series, capture some of the voices of poetry, past and present.
Grades 3-7 Walt Whitman was a progressive voice and innovative writer during a critical period of change in the United States. In the midst of the Civil War, his poetic and journalistic works, spanning topics from the personal to the political, marked the start of a new era for American literature. Whitman’s powerful poetry revealed his personality and depicted the United States as a place worthy of both high praise and sharp criticism.
Grades 6-12 This collection uses primary sources to explore the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Emily Dickinson was an American writer who lived during the Civil War and the first wave of feminism, during which women fought for suffrage and other rights. Dickinson’s inventive poems experiment with punctuation, syntax, metaphors, and diction to explore themes including nature, freedom, death, power, and faith. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States.
The Poetry of Maya Angelou: Primary Source Set
Grades 6-12 This collection uses primary sources to explore the poetry of Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou was an author, actor, dancer, poet, producer, director, playwright, professor, and civil rights activist considered one of the most influential voices of her time. She is widely known for her autobiographical works and poetry. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States.
Grades 9-12 Examine the life and influence of Audre Lorde, a Black feminist lesbian poet who believed that naming our full identities was an essential part of radical social change. Utilizing video from First Person: Classroom, discussion questions, and teaching tips, students will learn about intersectionality, and how to speak one’s own truth.
Grades PreK-4 Say the name “Shel Silverstein” aloud and adults and children alike think of clever, sometimes subversive, poems with comic line drawings and lots of laughs. You know that when you pick up a book by this writer and poet you’re in good hands. Find familiar and less familiar books on this list — and celebrate language, poetry, and an astute creator of books for children of all ages.
Grades 6-12 In this interactive lesson, discover how literary techniques like figurative language, imagery, and symbolism contribute to the overall meaning of a poem. Explore how a poet establishes and builds on a theme. Learn how to tell the difference between tone and mood. Through a close reading of Maya Angelou’s famous poem “Caged Bird” (1983), practice unpacking the language of poetry while learning about some of the various tools a writer can utilize when writing a poem.
Literary & Poetry Organizations
Adirondack Center for Writing
Grades 6-12 The Adirondack Center for Writing brings people and words together. The ACW cultivates the art of writing and the joy of reading; celebrate the power of language to invite discovery, to create an understanding of people and sense of place, and to build a community. To be part of the ACW community and share your poems during National Poetry Month, check out the 2021 PoemVillage program. Submissions are due by April 4th!
Quebec Writers’ Federation
The Quebec Writers’ Federation provides English-language programs, services, opportunities, and community for aspiring, emerging, and established writers and the wider community. QFC works to undertake activities which will increase public awareness of the literary arts and of literary institutions within the province.
Albany Poets mission is to give everyone the platform to share their art with the world. Whether it is on stage, online, or in print, Albany Poets strives to integrate the arts into the Capital Region and to promote the arts and lifestyle of Upstate New York. Albany Poets hosts a number of events – open mics, poetry readings, slams, music, and more. The Albany Poets’ website is the most comprehensive resource in Northeast for news and events listings for poetry and spoken word.
Poetry Society of America
The Poetry Society of America is the nation’s oldest poetry organization, founded in 1910, placing poetry at the crossroads of American life. The PSA transforms public spaces into sites for imaginative encounters with poems, engages diverse and often underserved communities, amplifies the voices of poets around issues of common concern, and honors their aesthetic contributions to our lives.
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation organizes and hosts free live events, engaging, multifaceted exhibitions that bring together visual arts and the written word, and digital programs on its website, social media and free Poetry app.
Learning at Home Programs
During National Poetry Month, check out the Mountain Lake PBS Learning at Homeblock, all April long! Join us as we explore, celebrate, and learn about the art of poetry.
Friday, April 2
1:30 PM: Poetry in America: Urban Love Poem
In this series opener, host Elisa New brings together acclaimed memoirist Maxine Hong Kingston, tech investor Randy Komisar, and four Bay Area residents on a rooftop in Chinatown to discuss the love of a great city. This episode explores San Francisco’s history from the Gold Rush and early Chinese immigration to the rise of Silicon Valley, through Marilyn Chin’s “Urban Love Poem”.
“The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” Elizabeth Bishop wrote in the poem, “One Art”, universally considered one of her greatest. Journalist Katie Couric, media executives Sheryl Sandberg and Yang Lan, singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, poet Gregory Orr, and others discuss Bishop’s masterpiece on losses, great and small.
This environmental science-themed episode explores Moore’s great poem of marine life, titled “The Fish”. Vice President Al Gore, poet Jorie Graham, and scientists from Conservation International dive into Moore’s portrayal of the ocean’s always-changing history, and its future in a warming world.
Series creator Elisa New talks with poet Mark Doty, psychologist Steven Pinker, choreographer Bill T. Jones, design maven Simon Doonan and designer Jonathan Adler about “This Your Home Now,” where a visit to the barber shop sparks a meditation on love, the AIDS crisis, and the satisfactions of getting older.
1 PM: American Masters | N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear
American Masters examines the enigmatic life and mind of National Medal of Arts-winner Navarro Scott Momaday, the Kiowa novelist, short-story writer, essayist and poet. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “House Made of Dawn” led to the breakthrough of Native American literature into the mainstream.
Stephen Sondheim is widely hailed as the greatest modern American musical theater composer. Series creator Elisa New speaks with Broadway stage actors and writer Adam Gopnik to explore Sondheim’s singular ability to blend lyrics and music, using “Finishing the Hat,” from Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George”, as their case study.