February and March have their respective celebrations of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, and next month will be of a similar case for it will be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. However, did you know that the month of April holds a celebration of its own? It celebrates people, though not defined by race or sex, but rather by pursuit and passion. It brings awareness and appreciation to the passion that such people pursue. April is National Poetry Month.
Inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is a celebration of not only the craft itself, but where it stands in our culture. It’s celebrated in a multitude of ways; from learning about some of our country’s most powerfully-voiced poets, to reading and writing poems, and even increasing the attention poetry gets by the media on a local and even national level. It’s a way of honoring voices that, in my opinion, is generally undermined for the impact it can leave.
If you look around, whether looking back into the past or in the case scenarios of contemporary life, poetry has and still does play an active role in life. For instance, if you go to visit Angel Island, what are you going to find on the walls of the buildings Chinese and Japanese immigrants were held in for indefinite periods of time? Poetry written in Chinese and Japanese writing. In 1993, Maya Angelou became the second poet in history to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration when she read her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Sometimes instead of flashy advertisements, New Yorkers who use the subway system may even come across poetry provided by the Poetry in Motion campaign. Last year, a poem about dancing that was written a mysterious first grader from New York went viral for its depth that maybe the first grader wasn’t even consciously aware of conveying.
I feel that we’ve all rubbed shoulders with poetry at some time or another, in particular in elementary school where we would be taught to write limericks, haikus and what not. However, I believe it takes a certain kind of energy and a thriving kind of passion for one to go head to head with poetry full on, on a regular basis. That’s what I admire about the poets that I’m not only aware of but also of those I know. That’s why I admire English teachers who put forth the effort to incorporate poetry into their curriculum and for programs that offer such space for that like Youth Speaks for instance.
My relationship with poetry definitely has more substance than some, though not as much as those who actively pursue it. Like many kids, I also was taught to write limericks and haikus when I was in elementary school. It was most likely in high school where I became especially active in the craft. I wrote poems every other week and would recite them at the open mics that would be held (and I swear, those things would get to be so popular, that the blackbox theater they were held in were often crammed with people). I was also involved in the spoken word club (which involved annual trips to competing in Youth Speaks every spring) and was an editor for the literary magazine that my high school used to have as well.
Within the past few years though, poetry has played a smaller role in my life, but that’s not to say it’s completely obliterated from it. I’ve had some poetry published in zines and on websites and my still unpublished children’s book also has poetry in it as well. The fire never died. It has just gotten a little smaller.
Like I said before, it takes a certain kind of energy to be active as a poet. But it also takes a certain way of writing as well. Even though I write poetry, it doesn’t flow out of me as easily as prose does. Sometimes, I really need to make the effort to get into the right kind of mindset for such writing. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Poetry may not be my forte, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing it. It still remains a gem in my life.
I’m glad there is a month to celebrate a craft such as poetry. It really puts things in perspective as to how poetry flows out into our lives, and how it should continue to do that even as we go forward into the future.
A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 5 reviews so I’m already a quarter of a way to my goal).
Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.