Local library promotes National Poetry Month

Maria Fazal, Staff Reporter

It’s April, which means that National Poetry Month has officially kicked off. The yearly event was created in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, who was inspired by the success of month-long celebrations like Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

The tradition has turned out to be exceptionally successful, even on an international scale. National Poetry month spread to Canada in 1999 and to Great Britain in 2000. Similarly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared March 21 as National Poetry Day, in order to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.” It is no surprise then that National Poetry Month has become unprecedentedly popular in the United States.

Each annual celebration results in an influx of poetry thanks to booksellers, publishers, libraries and other literary organizations. The real beauty of the event, however, is that everyone—from amateurs to professionals—can partake in the verbally aesthetic craft.

Cleveland certainly doesn’t fall short in celebrating National Poetry Month and is bustling with innovation. In fact, an opportunity to participate in National Poetry Month is readily available close to home. The Cuyahoga Public Library has a new poetry microsite with the listserv “Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry.” The site launched on April 1, and those who sign up will receive daily emails throughout the month.

According to the website, “Daily posts will include poems to read, poems to write, online resources and books to check out.” More specifically, with each day comes a new poem from an area poet, a writing prompt to assist those who have committed to writing a poem a day for the month, a different poetry site to visit and a featured poetry book available at the library.

Additionally, users will be entered in a drawing for a chance to see poet Robert Pinsky at Writers Center Stage, with which Case Western Reserve University is an academic partner.

Pinsky’s performance lands at the Ohio Theatre on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. Pinsky has been remarkably successful in his poetry career and been able to invoke such incredible enthusiasm in poetry that the Library of Congress appointed him United States Poet Laureate an unprecedented number of three times. Moreover, he is the author of 19 poetry and prose books.

Pinsky’s visit was partly what encouraged the Cuyahoga Public Library to create “Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry.” According to the library’s Reading Communications Specialist Laurie Kincer, “We wanted it to be dual purpose—to encourage reading poetry and writing poetry. And we wanted it to celebrate and incorporate, in particular, Northeast Ohio’s poets, past and present.”

Kincer teamed up with Diane Kendig, a Canton native and proliferous poet who has taught for over 40 years and authored several poetry collections, to design the ingenious project. Kendig was able to contact several local poets, and in conjunction with the library, she created the website material.

Thanks to Kincer and Kendig, students need not look far to begin participating in National Poetry Month. To sign up for the mailing list, simply provide an email at the “Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry” website.