Celebrate Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month!

I’ve loved poetry since childhood. In 1983, I was given a copy of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic. That gift began a lifelong love of poetry.

When I was younger, I spent many an afternoon daydreaming and writing poems. And the poetry sections in my high school English classes were always my best sections. I even still have (somewhere) a few of my high school poems.

I admit, I'm proud of this.

Since those sunny daydream days of youth, I’ve continued my love of poetry. I attend (when I can) poetry readings and festivals. I’ve gotten poets to sign books. One of my prized poetry books is The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni, which she signed for me when she did a poetry reading at my college.

I’ve even had a poem published in the 2007 Poetry at Round Top anthology. Poetry at Round Top is an annual festival of poetry and poets. Even though the anthology is a special publication for festival attendees, I’m still rather proud that my poem is printed alongside actual published poets Cyrus Cassells, William Wenthe, and Scott Hightower.

So it makes me sad and hurts my heart when people tell me they don’t understand poetry. Or worse, they don’t like poetry. Some people think poetry is too high-brow, too inaccessible, too intellectual.

What those people don’t get is that poetry surrounds us (or at least most of us) every day. Every time you turn on your radio or stream your favorite playlist on Spotify, you’re listening to poetry. (Providing you’re not streaming classical/instrumental music.)

Think about it -> song lyrics are just poetry set to music. And you can’t get much more accessible than that!

So today, I’m celebrating National Poetry Month with a spine poem. But before we get to the spine poem, a little bit of about poetry month.

Each April, National Poetry Month, started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, recognizes and celebrates the role of poets in our society. And, the Librarian of Congress also annually appoints a U.S. poet laureate, who over the course of the one-year term (September to May) presents a reading and lecture at the Library of Congress. (The current U.S. Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo.)

Now back to spine poetry.

A spine poem or “book spine poetry” is a kind of poem that you “find” by arranging book titles to make a poem. You arrange the spines of the book to make your poem.

Since it’s National Poetry Month, I recently was challenged on Litsy to create a spine poem. Since I have a few books laying around, I accepted the challenge.

Here’s how to read my spine poem:

Afterwar,
city of ghosts.
The darkest minds,
shifting shadows.
Carry on
the long way to a small angry planet.
Hope never dies.

And that, my friends, is a spine poem.

So now I challenge all of you to create your own spine poem in celebration of National Poetry Month. Post it here in the comments or share yours on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtags #poetrymatters #nationalpoetrymonth #spinepoem.

And if you want to keep reading poetry, some great poetry websites and resources include Poetry Foundation, Poems.org, and Poets.org.

A shout out and many thanks to my friend Lisa at The Spine View. Lisa hosts a monthly #poetrymatters challenge on Litsy, which has encouraged me to seek out new poems and poets, as well as revisit old faves.

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