National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry that takes place each April, was introduced in 1996 and is organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness, appreciation, and impact of poetry in the United States.

Poets are often referred to as makers. But why does this seem so natural, and what does it mean? The relationship between making and gathering might be one of the most important things about being a poet.

When I started writing poetry

Poetry was a nameless time, said W.S. Merwin. I had not yet found its name. In my first poetry class, I remember looking at each poem as an example of why so many people don’t like poetry. I saw it as obscure, disconnected from life and meaning nothing to me… Then I read Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, where he writes: I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. And then it hit me: poems are about making connections between our own lives and those around us.

From Hindu mythology to contemporary life

much of human history has been dominated by religion. Be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or any other, religious belief is a hugely influential force throughout our world. Throughout much of my life I have been fascinated by faith in all its myriad forms—from ancient stories passed down to me from my father’s time spent in Italy to working for a monastery in England for a period as well as living with Buddhist monks in Thailand. While I am not a particularly religious person myself, I find great value in exploring what others believe and why they believe it. Faith is something that can be explored through many lenses: philosophy, science, art, culture—you name it! And yet despite how complex these ideas are, there are some basic tenets that most religions share.

When I learned about haiku

At age nine, I loved to write stories. At eleven, I wrote poetry. When I learned about haiku—waka in Japanese—I thought it was an abomination that some master poet decided to reduce his poetry from five lines down to three. In my eleven-year-old mind, if you couldn’t get your point across in five lines of free verse, then you had no business writing a poem. It wasn’t until much later that I came to appreciate how hard it is to do anything well, especially at first. And when we give ourselves permission to do something poorly at first, we can learn so much more quickly than when we try too hard and become frustrated by our inability to execute perfectly right away. As a young writer, I would have benefited greatly from learning about haiku sooner; as an adult writer today, I hope others will benefit from what I’ve learned over time.

What it means to be a poet

A poet is someone who cares deeply about words, their meanings, and their sounds. – Robert Pinsky, a former U.S. poet laureate , tells us that being a poet means working to notice things, to pay attention to them. In order to write well—and in order to be a great reader—you need to make connections between your own experiences and what you read or hear; poets are constantly making these connections between language and life.

In Conclusion

National Poetry Month is an annual event during which hundreds of events take place nationwide—in schools, libraries, bookstores, arts centers, cafes—to celebrate contemporary poets. The goal is to raise visibility for poetry in all its forms: from traditional forms such as sonnets and haiku to more expansive forms such as hip-hop music and interactive prose poems.

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