April has always been my favorite month and not just because it is my birthday month!
It is also because it is National Poetry Month. I remember writing poetry every April in high school and even having one of my poems published in the Young Kansas Writers magazine.
Poetry is not just about rhymes or fashioning together perfect phrases. It is whatever the writer wants it to be.
Reading and even writing poetry is also a great tool for working with people processing grief and loss or experiencing severe memory loss. It can help with processing and healing memories much like music can. Listening to and writing poetry is a great way to help the elderly to communicate special times from their past.
Here are a few titles from adults to children to get you in the mood for celebrating National Poetry Month:
“African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song” edited by Kevin Young, is a brand-new collection of poems celebrating the works of Black poets. This new book is published by the Library of America, whose mission is to champion our nation’s cultural heritage and celebrate the words that have shaped America. The poems are collected from many familiar, forgotten and new authors and spans decades of history from 1775 to 2020. Sunday is also the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and this expansive anthology includes a poem by Gerald Barrax written in memorial to Dr. King titled “King: April 4, 1968.”
“Poetry Speaks Who I Am: 100 Poems of Discover, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else” edited by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah is a compilation of more than 100 poems that help the reader discover more about who they are and who they are becoming. Poetry can speak as many different messages as there are people. This is a book that touches on them all with a lot of grit, laughter, and tears. It will lead you on a vibrant journey to yourself. This is a great selection for both adult and teen readers who are looking to start their journey into reading and perhaps writing poetry.
“Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners” by Naomi Shihab Nye is filled with poems that offer peace, humor, inspiration and solace. All original works, the award-winning author writes to honor the many diverse artists, writers, poets, historical figures and ordinary people in her life. By celebrating the ones who have inspired her the most, we also are being asked to open our hearts and do the same. The overarching message woven throughout is to find peace and empathy for ourselves and others.
For younger readers, “Hello, Earth!: Poems to Our Planet” by Joyce Sidman is a great choice. The combination of imaginative poems and stunning art work helps the reader to think about the wonders of the world. It also includes teachable science information at the end to encourage young readers to learn more about things from tectonic plates to why the ocean has tides. “Hello, Earth!” combines art, science, and the humanities in a way that captivates and celebrates our planet. You can check this new children’s book out in time for Earth Day on April 22.
Whether you are new to poetry or have been enjoying it for years, the library has poetry books for all ages and tastes. You can find these titles and many others to help you celebrate National Poetry Month at the Manhattan Public Library. Email us at email@example.com or call 785-776-4741 ext. 300 for other recommendations.
Julie Mills is the learning and information services supervisor at Manhattan Public Library.