It's National Poetry Month, people! This one almost slipped under our radar, but we've still got a few good days of April to appreciate poetry and think about its impact on our lives. While a lot of teens write poetry, sometimes it seems like not a lot of poetry gets read. It's much harder to be a poet than a fiction writer, for example, because so few people buy books of poetry. So what are some ways we can appreciate and support the poets in our lives this month?
Read some classics. All of today's poets had to start by reading what poetry had come before and understanding the evolution of poetry over time. If you like to write poetry, have you done your homework? Why not try starting at the beginning by reading some Homer or Sappho? And you can begin to understand how European poetry really took off by reading Shakespeare, Keats, and Wordsworth. While old-fashioned language might seem boring to you at first, you might be surprised by how graceful and lovely the poems of these wordsmiths are. Many contemporary poems, in fact, make frequent references to these classic poets, stealing lines or word pairs from them.
Read the poetry of another world. Reading poetry in English is only one way to understand what goes into the great poems of the world. If there's a part of the world you're interested in, why not read some great poems of that place? I recommend delving into some classic Japanese haiku, which are as profound as they are brief. Don't miss the sinuous, fluid verses of the Persian poet Rumi. And try reading classic Irish or French poetry; you'll find a lot to admire and emulate in your own writing.
Get into contemporary poetry. All right, you've covered the classics. Now how about reading the cutting-edge of modern poetry? Some of it, like modern-art, might be off-putting or difficult to understand, but much of it is in tune with our daily lives and relationships. Try Sharon Olds, Charles Simic, John Ashberry, or Paul Muldoon; you'll be inspired to write some contemporary poetry of your own.
Almost on to May, which happens to be National Tell-a-Story month!