Your friends, and your associates, and the people around you, and the environment that you live in, and the speakers around you, and the communicators around you are the poetry makers. If your mother tells you stories, she is a poetry maker. If your father says stories, he is a poetry maker. If your grandma tells you stories, she is a poetry maker...
So says our U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, which is a great way to envision the world during... National Poetry Month! Introduced in the mid-90s by the Academy of American Poets (AAP), April is slated as a time for literary celebration around poets and poetry.
So, where’s the celebration, you ask? For one, check out the Outbound Poetry Festival this week at 30th Street Station. The pop-up style festival, hosted by Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher gives the public a chance to interact with poetry as they move about their daily lives and features readings from poets near and far, including local stars Ursula Rucker, Frank Sherlock, and Youth Poet Laureate Otter Jung-Allen, among others.
Or there's the 2017 Philadelphia Poetry Festival, taking place this year on Sunday, April 23 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Rotunda at 40th and Walnut. The annual festival welcomes poetry organizations, magazines, presses, reading series, college writing programs, and poets themselves to gather, share information about their work, and read poetry together in celebration of the community in and around our city.
Looking for a reading or other fun event near you? Here are a few:
In Center City, visit Moonstone Arts Center including Poetry Ink. There will be hours and hours of readings by tons and tons of poets on Sunday, April 30.
In West Philly, check out Kelly Writer’s House.
In Germantown, stop in at Germantown Poetry Project.
In Mt. Airy, drop by Big Blue Marble Bookstore.
If you want to find out what’s going on all around the area at any time of the year, you should sign up for Swarthmore professor and poet Nathalie Anderson’s listserv, it’s got a little bit of everything. Or stay in touch with Apiary Magazine – a Philly-produced mag "written by humans." They have a substantive list of events.
Not to be outdone, the Free Library is also cranking out poetry events this month and beyond for people of all ages:
Children and families can participate in Easy Origami and Poetry Storytime at the David Cohen Ogontz branch.
Adults might enjoy hearing famed Irish poet Paul Muldoon at the Rosenbach.
And everyone is invited to contribute to help craft the community poem at the Fumo Family Library. Stop in and add a line on a vintage Royal Typewriter!
But what if you just want to stay home and read poems in your backyard with the daffodils? The Academy of American Poets has you covered. Sign up for their "Poem-a-Day" and you’ll see one contemporary or classic poem in your inbox each day.
My favorite part of National Poetry Month? Another fun project started by the AAP: Poem in Your Pocket Day, celebrated this year on April 27. Just carry poetry around with you. Take it out and read it on the train. Show your kids. Show your coworkers.
Here’s the poem I’ll have in my pocket this year, "From Grace", by Philly’s own excellent Leonard Gontarek:
It starts, “I may force the soul into nakednes..." Ooh-la-la!
Add links to your favorites in the comments. Let’s all heed Herrera and be poetry makers this month. Let’s celebrate.