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Monday, April 17, 2017

Call to Action: Go Read a Poem [or 2]

Each year I try to post at least once about poetry during National Poetry Month and each year I try to remind myself [and all of you] that poetry is a good read more times a year than just April. But like many of you, I have the best intentions in April and then, I forget about poetry.

Having school aged children reminds me often that as a kid I regularly read poetry and liked it. Both my kids are exposed to poetry in their school curriculum and it’s not the boring stuff. They are reading and learning about all kinds of poetry from the obvious dead white males of yore to current, modern poets.

My son, like many middle school kids loves books by Kwame Alexander, and the fact that they are written in verse doesn’t phase him. I also recently caught both kids (middle and high school) having an in-depth conversation about their favorite style of poetry and the rhythmic patterns they prefer as both writers and readers [interestingly both prefer a difference if they are consuming vs creating a poem.]

I used to be like them too. I would read and [at least try] to write poetry much more regularly. I don’t know why I stopped [well I know why I stopped writing, but not why I stopped reading]. Shel Silverstein was my favorite author as a kid. I spent hours reading and rereading his poems, listening to the audio of him reading them, memorizing them, reading them to others, etc... Every time I am asked who my favorite author was as a child, Silverstein is my answer. It is my immediate response because it is such an honest truth.

I had so much joy from poetry as a kid. Silverstein’s poems led me to other poems. I LOVE Beowulf. It was one of the best experiences I had in high school with an assigned text. A joy that intense doesn’t just evaporate. So then why don’t I read more poetry?

I am not sure, but National Poetry Month is a good time to try to suggest poetry to myself and others. I can’t be alone here. And the recent best selling popularity of authors like Alexander, proves that there is a mainstream interest in verse as a storytelling format.

But thankfully this is what these Call to Action posts are all about-mcalling us all out on the things we lose sight of in the day to day grind of working with leisure readers. To shake all of us, even me, out of our complacency.

So, to inspire all of you [and myself] to consider more poetry, here is a list of poetry resources and posts that I think will help you to help leisure readers identify poetry options, now and all the year through.

  • Here are 30 Ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month, but please note, you can do these any time of the year to celebrate poetry.
  • Here is the direct link to all of my posts about poetry on the blog.
  • Here is a link to everything from The Booklist Reader tagged poetry.
  • Here is the link to the poetry start page on Goodreads. If you are interested in suggesting something to a patron start here. There are the newest titles and the most popular. All have reviews so we can see the comments of those who love them and those who hated them. If you are not sure which type of readers you should suggest poetry to, start by reading the reviews of those who liked a newer collection and see what they have to say.
  • Finally, the link I would keep handy all year long, The Millions “On Poetry” archives. Unlike me, The Millions has articles and essays about poetry all year long, and they have for over 10 years. They began by simply posting in April, but over the years, they have added more regular coverage on poetry. Look, they wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t an increase in general interest in poetry, so spend some time reading what they have. From discussions on how poems are written to new books worth a look and everything in-between, On Poetry can help you find suggestions, stay up to date on trends, and keep you in the poetry loop all year long.
For past Call to Action posts, click here.

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