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Six Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

by Public Service Associate Juliana

It’s time to celebrate poets! Do you find poetry intimidating? Does your experience extend beyond Shakespeare’s sonnets you read in high school? This April is the perfect time to give poetry another chance. Read on for six ways to infuse your month with an appreciation for verse.


My favorite way to incorporate poetry into my life is with a morning poem. It serves as meditation and helps me feel more centered. If you already have an established morning routine, simply add a poem to it. It’s as easy as keeping Mary Oliver’s Devotions on your bedside table or the corner of your desk or beside the coffee pot or your yoga mat. Open it at random, choose from the table of contents, or just start at the beginning and work your way through.

Discover what happens when you carry a poem with you into your day, when you consciously or subconsciously think about the lines or images that stick with you while you brush your teeth, while you drive, as you walk into work, as you interact with people. How might a poem affect your mood and what you pay attention to, the conversations you have at dinner, how you feel about yourself and the world and our place in it? Experiment with a morning poem and see what impact it has. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Here are a few favorite poetry collections you might try.

  • Devotions by Mary Oliver | print / digital
  • A Maze Me: Poems for Girls by Naomi Shihab Nye | print
  • Crush by Richard Siken | print


Another way to incorporate poetry into your life is to start with something nonintimidating, something you’re already comfortable with, like novels. The world of reading is rich with novelists who are also poets or who began as poets. Check out one of the novels below to sink into poetic prose.

  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong | print / digital
  •  Paul by Daisy Lafarge | print
  • Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight | print


Try something from the nonfiction stacks. Memoirs written by poets are often lyrical and engaging, full of imagery and sensory details.

  • How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones | print / digital
  • A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa | print / digital
  • Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey | print / digital


While you’re in the nonfiction stacks, browse the biographies. Honor a poet by reading about their life and the years that shaped them.

  • Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark | print / digital
  • These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson by Martha Ackmann | print


Or watch a poet-themed film.

  • Paterson dir. by Jim Jarmusch (This film is an absolute gem. I love the bulldog.) | dvd
  • Bright Star written and dir. by Jane Campion | dvd
  • Poetry dir. by Lee Chang-Dong | dvd


Lastly, after reading through this, you might feel inspired to write poems of your own. We have a great selection of creative manuals here on our shelves. I especially love the following:

  • Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio | print
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg | print / digital