A Celebration of Poets & Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and every April I’m reminded of the spring when my family first encountered Jack Prelutsky’s humorous poem, “Sprig Id Here”, a near-perfect ode to the unfairness of catching a cold in the springtime:

“Sprig id here, I hab a code.

Idz id duh biddu ub by dode.

Idz id duh biddu ub by head.

I’b bidderabu, add I’b id bed.”

-excerpt from the poem “Sprig Id Here” by Jack Prelutsky, from his book My Dog May Be A Genius

This poem is so much fun to read aloud with your children, especially if they’re sidelined with the sniffles – sometimes laughter is the best medicine!  You can find more playful poetry like this at our local libraries or online (Jack Prelutsky’s website is a great place to start!).

Poems are meant to be read loud, to be spoken and heard, an age-old interactive arts experience.  In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Creative Writing Department at Roger Williams University is holding two poetry readings by guest writers this month, and the first is this afternoon:

Poetry aficionados and casual fans alike are invited to revel in rhyme at Roger Williams University this April in observance of National Poetry Month. To celebrate the month, the University’s Creative Writing Department will hold a series of free poetry readings and lectures featuring guest writers.

Poet Ann Townsend will visit the University on Monday, April 9 at 4 p.m., to share excerpts from her collections, including “Dime Store Erotics” as well as her more recent 2005 collection “The Coronary Garden.” The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Discovery Prize from The Nation, Townsend’s poems have appeared in such magazines as Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review and many others. She teaches courses in creative writing and literary translation at Denison University in Ohio.

The following week, on Monday, April 16 at 4 p.m., up-and-coming writer Nathaniel Perry will read excerpts from his 52-poem collection, “Nine Acres.”

You can read the full press release by clicking here.  National Poetry Month is organized by the Academy of American Poets, and their website is brimming with information, resources, and ideas for celebrating poetry.  I especially like their page, “30 Ways to Celebrate” where I came across more than a few intriguing ideas, like “Put a Poem on the Pavement” and “Start a Commonplace Book”.  And then there’s “Read a Poem at an Open Mic” and hey! we have an open mic venue here in our community!  The Coffee Depot on Main Street in Warren hosts an Open Mic Night most Friday nights, including this Friday, April 13th.

George Hail Free Library in Warren is joining in the celebration, too, hosting a poetry reading with Tom Chandler, RI Poet Laureate Emeritus, on Thursday, April 19th at 6:30pm.  The free event is co-sponsored by the Origami Poems Project, and audience members are invited to read aloud their own poetry, as well.  Call 245-7686 for more details.

Think poetry is not your cup of tea?  You might be selling yourself short.  In her March 2011 TED Talk, the inspiring spoken word poet, Sarah Kay, makes the most compelling, inviting, and breathtaking case for celebrating poetry in our lives that I’ve ever seen/heard/felt.  Watch the video below and see if you can’t resist the urge to jump up and applaud along with her audience!

Poetry makes us think, tickles us and makes us laugh, reminds us of what’s really important, frees us to express complex thoughts and feelings, and allows us to see the world from a different perspective.  Ask your children if they’ve been reading and writing poetry in school this month, ask them to read you their favorite poem, and share yours with them!  And share with The Arts Room, too – tell us about your favorite poem in the Comments section below!

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