THE BLOG
03/31/2013 03:10 pm ET Updated May 31, 2013

A Brief Guide to National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, poetry lovers! An annual celebration (since 1996) sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, the event aims to spread the gospel of poetry and celebrate the art's rich past and vibrant present.

Local celebrations will be popping up all over the country. New York's Southeast Steuben County Library plans to celebrate Prufrock-style: "Guests are invited to break out their favorite hats and join the library for a sumptuous tea" (expect some talk of Michelango). The city of Redmond, Washington is hosting a poetry contest for poems based solely on the spines of books. And the University of Buffalo will hold a 14-hour marathon reading of all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson's poems--an event that would probably terrify Emily Dickinson.

The academy's official site previews some of this year's national events. I've highlighted a few of my favorites.

The Dear Poet Project
This new project, inspired by Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, invites students to write a letter to a poet serving on the academy's board. The hope is for these letters to spark a correspondence about poetry that will be featured on the site.

April 17: Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala
The Academy's annual gala, where celebrities and some of the country's best-known poets meet to celebrate the art, will be held at Lincoln Center in New York. This year's readers include Mario Batali, Dick Cavett, Patricia Clarkson and Amber Tamblyn. You can still buy tickets here.

April 18: Poem in Your Pocket Day
A day to carry your favorite verse with you and share it with others. If you don't already have a poem in mind, explore the academy's list of poems ready for printing. You'll find terrific choices like "Love III" by George Herbert (excerpt below). And it's fun to explore the site's themes--like Hill, Fins, Moo, Rake, and Dark to see what verse is underneath.

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd any thing.
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd any thing.

In none of these events float your boat, don't worry, the academy has dreamt up 30(!) ways to celebrate, like signing up to receive a poem in your inbox each morning throughout the month of April. It's a chance to enjoy poetry in the quiet of your own home -- with or without your favorite hat.

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