How to Celebrate Poetry Today
It is becoming harder in this hectic metamodern world to step back and take a break from the whirling chaos. We often end up forgetting what truly brings us pleasure and what makes us feel good. Things like poetry and art, or music. It’s all there and we may see it, but it becomes a blur in the wide, tumultuous landscape. We get caught up in the constantly moving parts of human expectations - work, family, social obligations. We forget to enjoy the things that make life worth living.
Thankfully we have lyrical insurgents ready to aim and fire poetic bliss towards the rough and tumbling front lines of “the real world”, leading us back to this pure form of expression and knowing why. Because we need it. So, for the entire month of April, writers and enthusiasts around the world are honoring the art form of poetry. We have joined in on the fun by posting daily writing prompts on social media. If you’re up for the challenge, you can find the compiled list of the entire month’s prompts here.
How else could you honor the poetic arts this month? How about in everyday life? April turns to May and we spring ourselves closer to the magic of summer, and poetry does not stop. Neither should you! Here are just a few ways you can celebrate.
Prove that poetry can be found anywhere. Commit a random act of poetry by writing a short poem and leaving it somewhere in a public space. Pin a poem up at your favorite coffee shop. Slip a handwritten haiku into a library book, preferably by your favorite poet. Traveling somewhere? Leave it on the seat of the plane before you exit.
Do you have a typewriter? Set it up in a public place on a sunny afternoon where you know a lot of people will be passing through. Write poems for the people you see. Let them inspire you with topics and ideas. Let them leave with your poem. If you have social media, be sure to put your account handle on the piece of paper so they can pass it along to the world and give you props. There are many typewriter poets popping up in cities all over. Haven’t found one? Be one!
There is something cathartic about typing on those keys. Hearing the “tack-tack” with each letter punched. A typewriter is a great tool to help you evolve your writing process. If you are looking to pick one up, check local flea markets, thrift stores, and vintage stores. They can be gold mines for finding these revived machines, and sometimes you just have to dig. You can even find them on our website occasionally, so be sure to check back or hit us up if you are interested in finding one.
If you are a poet looking to share your spirited words with the world, the best place to start is in your community. Do you know of any open mic nights? Often times, you can check libraries, cafes or bars for bulletin boards filled with flyers of local events. You are likely to find information about an open mic that might be hosted in your neighborhood. Also, search online! Eventbrite is a great tool to use when searching specific categories, and of course check your favorite social media platform to find such events happening in your area.
Along with that, you are also likely to find information about writing workshops, or other opportunities to share your work with others in a non-performance setting. This is a great way for budding poets to share and improve their skills, and perfect for any veteran to stay fresh and creative.
Are you ready to take work to the next level? Research current poetry contests and opportunities to submit your work. There are all sorts of contests you can find online. Some offer generous cash prizes, recognition, and publication on online or in print. I know it can be incredibly stressful submitting your work for the first time. But what you must learn is to not be afraid of rejection. It is a necessary discomfort that will in the long run make you a better and stronger writer.
Or if you are ready for more, start organizing your own poetry manuscript. This can seem like a daunting task, and I’m not going to lie, it is. Deciding which pieces to include or omit, what the title should be, cover art, or even what name to use. This can be overwhelming. It is best to think of it as a step-by-step process. It’s not going to happen over night, but the results will be worth it!
Not a writer yourself, but love poetry anyways? You, too, can still participate! And you are highly encouraged to do so! Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 18th. This one is easy! Find a poem that you love and carry it with you in your pocket for the entire day. Share it with your friends, family, co-workers, a stranger on the bus, your favorite bartender, your furry friend...whoever! Spread the joy of poetry!
Check out Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s daily poetry podcast, The Slowdown. Each episode is only 5 minutes long, so it’s something quick and easy to listen to on your way to work or on a break. Smith shares a new poem every day, along with her thought-provoking insight on the selected piece. During National Poetry Month, the organization is sending out bookmarks with a selected poem on each as a surprise gift to the poetry lover of your choice.
Support up-and-coming writers. Purchase a new poet’s first chapbook. Step into your local bookstore. Often times, you’ll find a section dedicated to new or local authors. Pick something from that shelf. One more book sold is one more justification for that writer to be doing what they are doing, showing that the world does care about what they have to say. We tend to be a doubtful bunch. Every bit of encouragement matters!
We are only halfway through the month. In the next couple weeks take that well-needed step back to look at the world around you. Realize how accessible poetry can be. It’s there when you walk outside. When you feel the sun warm your skin, or a light breeze eases through the air, close your eyes for a moment, and just breathe. That is a poem in itself!
Life can be poetic always, and you can find inspiration in the daily grind. Even I am still surprised how easy it is to let poetry walk beside you in this journey of existence. Poetry has guided many towards light, wisdom, and release. Catharsis. Just like the “tack-tack” of the typewriter. Let’s keep it going!