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National Poetry Month

Overwhelmed? Had a Busy Week? Slow Down with a Poem

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When things get overwhelming and you feel knee deep in distractions, what do you do to slow things down? Some people turn to meditation. I use poetry as my remedy. As soon as I sense a whiff of spring, I dig up the first stanza of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and recite these words to whomever will listen: April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. I don’t know why I memorized this part of the poem in college, but through this exercise I realized that reading and experiencing a poem can be transformative.  It takes me away from what’s happening around me, an escape…

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It’s National Poetry Month!: 30 Unique Ways to Celebrate Poets and Their Craft

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April is National Poetry Month! Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, it has become the largest worldwide literary event. Schools, libraries, bookstores, publishers and fans of literature celebrate poets and their craft with events like Poem in Your Pocket, Poem-a-Day, and Dear Poet. If you are looking for creative ways to celebrate poetry in all its forms, here are 15 suggestions from the Academy of American Poets’ list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month: Sign up for Teach This Poem, a weekly series for teachers. Review these concrete examples of how poetry matters in the United States today. Learn more about poets and poetry events in your state. Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry…

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5 Poems (or are they lyrics?) to ring out National Poetry Month

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National Poetry Month may be drawing to a close, but chances are, you’ve been enjoying poetry without even knowing it. While you may not have actually cracked open a book of poems (and why not try it right now—there’s still time!), you’ve probably been listening to poetry set to popular music, a custom that’s been handed down since the days of traditional folk music. Take these five pieces. Are they poems or lyrics to songs? Can you tell? The answers are below… 1) Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail, the sky cracked its poems in naked wonder…   2) “Why do I love you, Sir? Because—the wind does not require the grass to answer…”   3)…

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Poetry as performance art for National Poetry Month

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Grab a cold one and pull up a chair, literature fans, it’s time for—competitive poetry? You heard right—as we observe National Poetry Month 2015, artists across the nation and around the world are taking part in Poetry Slams—unique contests in which poets become performers and recite their works in open competition before live audiences. Poetry slams have given a unique stage and voice to poets—many of whom are women and artists of color—who otherwise might not be heard. In a poetry slam, artists perform before a panel of judges (often members of the audience) who then score the work on a numeric scale. Often, poets perform in elimination rounds until a winner is selected. Poetry slams have skyrocketed in popularity…

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The secret language of twins: Matthew Dickman and Michael Dickman talk poetry

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Matthew and Michael Dickman share more than just DNA. The identical twins are also award-winning poets who call Portland, Oregon home. Matthew is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review, 2008) and Mayakovsky’s Revolver: Poems (Norton, 2012). Michael’s work includes The End of the West (Copper Canyon, 2009) and Flies (Copper Canyon, 2011); the brothers collaborated on the 2012 collection 50 American Plays, a book of poem-plays about all 50 states. In honor of National Poetry Month, BookTrib had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew and Michael about poetry, siblings, and all things art. What poem has resonated the most for you over the years? Would your answer have been different five, ten years ago? Matthew: One of the…

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Secret lives and uncensored poems of maximum security inmates

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Poems written by people who usually have no voice in our society and spend a large part of their lives in behind bars are presented in the new book, How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart: Secret Lives and Uncensored Confessions of Maximum Security Prison Inmates, which publishes April 21 during National Poetry Month. The book is the result of a successful prison education program taught by bestselling fiction and nonfiction author John Wareham who prompts inmates to write about their emotional and intellectual journeys from the moment of their crime to the moment of their release. Here are two of the poems from Wareham’s program.   QUESTIONS By Sheldon Arnold Who am I? What have I done? I…

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