April is National Poetry Month. I’ve mentioned to this to my students, as just last week we talked about Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe. Of course, with many topics we discuss in class, there’s an incredible amount of apathy. Though I haven’t been teaching that long, this apathy no longer shocks me – though it probably still should. Why celebrate or even recognize poetry? Is poetry even relevant any more? In thinking about what I wanted to say about poetry in recognition of National Poetry Month, I asked myself those questions. The answer is of course, yes!! Poetry, poets, these artists and their arts should be celebrated.
According to Poets.org, the website operated by the Academy of American Poets who organized the monthlong celebration, there are many ways to celebrate National Poetry Month. I don’t think I’ll be attending a poetry meeting or taking a “poem out to lunch”. I will, however, share some of my favorite poetry collections.
What child hasn’t enjoyed and been intrigued by Shel Silverstein? It’s hard to pick one favorite (book – let alone poem), but for this list we’ll pick the classic Where the Sidewalk Ends. I love this book and have read it countless times – now my daughter has also become a fan. His work is timeless, classic, and will be shared for many more generations to come.
Poet laureate Maya Angelou has contributed so much great work in her literary career. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou is just one of the many published collections of her work. She has a distinct voice; her books and poems have spoken great truth and wisdom to many women. One of her best works, “Still I Rise” is included in this collection. Though it was first published in 1978, it still has the power to amaze and inspire.
One of the most notable writers of the romantic era, Walt Whitman represents something uniquely American. Leaves of Grass is a collection of his greatest work, and it is a collection he worked his whole life on. His work represents not only his journey as a man, but the journey the country was on in the early 19th century. “O Captain! My Captain!”, “Song of Myself”, and “I Sing the Body Electric” are among his more notable poems. These are included in this collection, as a couple hundred more.
Robert Frost has become one of the best-known and most-loved American poets, and his work has been notable for nearly a hundred years. Robert Frost: Selected Poems includes some of his best work. Like Whitman, he represents something uniquely American. Frost had lived a really interesting life, and this is well-represented in his work. “Directive” is included in this collection, which has inspired a few generations of poets and songwriters.
These are our favorites. What are yours? Have you wondered that same question, is poetry is still relevant? It certainly is – and alive and well in our poets, as well as rappers, and songwriters. If you don’t want to host a poetry reading, or attend an open mic, that’s ok. We won’t be either! You can, however, pick up one of these books! Enjoy!