National Poetry Month begins April 1 and celebrates the many poets who have lived, and are currently living here in the United States, recognizing the works that they published over the years. The primary goal is to spread awareness and increase a national appreciation for poetry throughout the country. During April, bookstores and libraries shift towards promoting all types of poetry, while academic curriculums also shift towards teaching poetry-related units.
At Pace, Director of Libraries Matt Ball has invited guest poet Richard Blanco to speak at a virtual upper school assembly on April 14 in celebration of the special month. Mr. Blanco is a world-renowned poet who has performed his work through a wide variety of platforms, most famously during President Obama’s second inauguration where he performed his piece “One Today” as the inaugural poet.
In addition to the assembly, Mr. Blanco will virtually visit some English classes and student groups such as the Latino Hispanic Affinity Group and Knight Gallery, where he will host workshops and Q&A sessions. Mr. Ball is excited to see the types of conversations that Mr. Blanco will engender. “I like Richard Blanco because he’s both gay and Hispanic and an immigrant,” said Mr. Ball. “I think that all of those points of identification create an interesting intersection, especially in relation to his poems, and I thought that he would be an interesting person for our students to see and to talk to and ask questions.” Mr. Blanco will be visiting virtually on April 14 and 16.
The history of National Poetry Month stems from the success of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March). Inspired by the attention that both celebrations garnered, the Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month to “highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.” It was first introduced in 1996 and has since expanded into one of the largest literary celebrations in the world. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the celebration.
Every year, the Academy of American Poets sets up events throughout the month to help gather the community to support American poets. This year, as a result of COVID-19, they will be hosting their first-ever “Virtual Poetry and Creative Mind Gala” on April 19 in an attempt to continue to gather support for the many poets who participate in this month’s festivities. In the past, the usually in-person event has welcomed famous actors, dancers and public figures to share their favorite poems. Such individuals have included: Glenn Close, Tina Fey, Wayne Brady and Meryl Streep. The Academy of American Poets is also continuing to maintain some of its previous traditions, such as “Poem a Day,” where you can sign up to receive a new poem in your inbox daily. You can learn more at their website here.
Top Photo: Poet Richard Blanco will visit Pace virtually on April 14 and 16. Photo: richard-blanco.com