Celebrate the Artful Act of Poetry in April

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. It’s also a great way to explore literacy and self expression with children of all ages. Try using poetry as an “anywhere, anytime” activity, flexing kids’ brainpower and willingness to share.

Appreciate poetry in all its forms this month with the articles, activities, profiles on notable poets, and more below. And every Friday, catch our Learning at Home block from 1-3pm featuring PBS’ Poetry in America!

Jump to article sections:

Explore the Art of Poetry

Sons of Poetry | Sesame Street

Grades PreK-K
The Sons of Poetry circle their bikes to find the perfect rhyme. Explore poetry and practice rhyming with this parody video.

Your Child’s a Poet, and Here’s How to Show It

Grades PreK-3
There’s a really easy way to spice up your child’s reading and writing routine: poetry! Sprinkling poems into your usual mix can keep reading time fresh while boosting literacy skills. 

Starting Out | Engaging with Literature

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.

Transformation: Get Lit and the Power of Poetry

Grades 6-12
Increase teen literacy through the power of spoken word with the unique stories of five Get Lit poets. Use the collection’s activities, prompts, and discussion questions to support learning both inside and outside of the classroom with Common Core-aligned mini-lessons.

Poetry Everywhere Collection

Grades 6-12
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.

Learn About Notable Poets

Remember | Poetry Read Along with Joy Harjo

Grades PreK-3
Join PBS Kids and United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo in a very special reading of one of her poems, “Remember” from her book, “How We Became Humans.”

Walt Whitman | Journalist and Poet Video

Grades 3-8
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.

Langston Hughes | Know Ohio

Grades 3-8
In this video from Know Ohio, Mary discusses jazz poetry and one of its leading pioneers, Ohioan Langston Hughes. Hughes spends his early impressionable years in Cleveland. 

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson: Primary Source Set

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.

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.

Activities, Books & More

Grover’s Rhyme Time Game

Grades PreK-K
Learn all about rhyming with Grover in this fun train game! Conductor Grover leads the way as you drive the train and pick which words rhyme. Don’t forget to blow the whistle! Choo Choo!

Write and Play Found Poetry

Grades PreK-3
Found poetry, often described as the literary equivalent of a collage, is when you take existing words, phrases or passages and re-frame them to create poetry. Help your child play with words and express herself to create found poetry.

The Best of Shel Silverstein

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.

Writing An Historical Poem | History Detectives

Grades 6-12
Students will write a poem, using a historical figure’s perspective in order to better understand the time period.

Elements of Poetry

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

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. This National Poetry Month, be sure to enjoy the many poems hanging in windows throughout Saranac Lake contributed by ACW community members involved in their PoemVillage program.

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.

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.

Poetry Foundation

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 Home block, all April long! Join us as we celebrate and learn about the art of poetry.

Friday, April 1

1 PM: Poetry in America: Mending Wall

Do good fences really make good neighbors? Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” asks surprising questions about the role of walls in civil society. Host Elisa New gathers Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, author Julia Alvarez, political commentator David Gergen, Frost biographer and poet Jay Parini, poet Rhina Espaillat, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to delve into this classic poem.

Friday, April 8

1 PM: Poetry in America: The Language of the Brag and The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters

Sharon Olds’s “The Language of the Brag” and Bernadette Mayer’s “The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters” are exuberant, boisterous tributes to motherhood. Both poets join host Elisa New, actor Donna Lynne Champlin, writer Emily Oster, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, obstetrician Lorna Wilkerson, and co-founders of Our Bodies Ourselves to explore the miracle, and mess, of creating new life.

Friday, April 15

1 PM: Poetry in America: Bear Fat & Rabbits and Fire

Two poems, by Linda Hogan and Alberto Ríos, follow wolves, jackrabbits, and other animals across the harsh Great Plains and Sonoran Desert. Both poets join wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, film director Chris Eyre, Native American scholars Philip Deloria and Stephanie Fitzgerald, and a chorus of students to discuss how the poems call back difficult histories of human migration in the American west.

Friday, April 22

1 PM:Poetry in America: Sonnet IV; I shall forget you presently, my dear

In 1920s Greenwich Village, Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote Shakespearean sonnets that toppled clichés of love and romance. To probe this unsentimental break-up poetry, host Elisa New speaks with musician Natalia Zukerman, poet Olivia Gatwood, New York Times advice columnist Philip Galanes, writer Leslie Jamison, scholar of Greenwich Village Jeffery Kennedy, and a chorus of National Student Poets.