How to Celebrate National Poetry Month: Guest Post by Nancy Posey

Please welcome our own Nancy Posey as she discusses ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month in April (outside of participating in the Poetic Asides April PAD Challenge). As many of you may know, Nancy is a frequent participant in the Poetic Asides challenges–even winning the 2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge (read an interview with her here). Nancy recently released that winning chapbook titled Let the Lady Speak, and it’s definitely worth checking out.



In my role as a teacher (and not just a poet), I have always looked forward to April, a chance to celebrate National Poetry Month, when I can encourage my students not just to study poetry but to enjoy it as well. Approaching April this year, I look forward to my fourth year (can that be right?) as a participant in the Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge, I realize that the activities we enjoy can be just as much fun for others. Sure, the poet’s life can be a lonely life, but April gives us all license to spread the joy.

Here are a few ideas for your celebration:

  1. Stage a Favorite Poem Project event like those Robert Pinsky piloted during his tenure as the U.S. Poet Laureate. The scale is up to you–a few friends or a community-wide gathering–but join others in presenting your favorite poem, introducing it very briefly by explaining why it is your favorite, then reading it.
  2. Poem in a Bottle. Edward Hirsch explained that finding just the right poem is like a message in a bottle. Whether in a local coffee shop or art gallery, your workplace, or classroom, join others in finding just such a poem, one that either seems to speak to you directly or one that seems to represent your message to the world, print it attractively, then roll it slightly so that it will fit in a clear bottle, facing outward, the bottle serving as a frame. Line the bottles together in a display. How you come up with a suitable empty bottle is up to you!
  3. Mother’s Day sells cards and roses, Father’s Day sells neckties, and Valentine’s Day sells roses and chocolate. Should April be a perfect marketing opportunity for poetry books? Sure you could get one of the standards, such as Leaves of Grass or One Hundred and One Famous Poems, but why not support a local–or at least living–poet? Attend a local poetry reading in your area and buy a chapbook from one of the readers. Even better buy at least two. Give one away as a NPM gift. Then you will have someone to talk with you about the poems you read there.
  4. Skim the poetry shelves–okay, I’m probably being optimistic–or shelf at your local bookstore, checking out what is new. Don’t see anything new? Ask the manager where to find the books by local and regional poets. React with shock and dismay if he or she confesses there are none. If you do find them, be sure to thank the manager–and even the checkout clerks. Oh yes, buy one. Buy two. (See above.)
  5. Suggest that your book club choose a book of poetry. Be prepared with titles and justification. If the group won’t go along with poetry as the sole selection for the month, suggest a pairing of fiction and poetry. Bring an example or two of poetry books you love. Read one or two poems to whet the appetite.
  6. Spread poetry everywhere. Print out copies of poems that would be fun for general enjoyment and post them where people go: Inside the restroom stalls on the doors, over the water fountains, in train stations, on subways. For extra fun, try to find poems that fit your location (with reason!).
  7. Do you have school-age children? Consider sending a teacher NPM gift (a book of poetry, of course) or card (poem inside). Do this early in the month in the hopes of inspiring poetry in the classroom.
  8. Get out those Magnetic Poetry kits and put them in places where you and those around you can engage in creative play. Low-tech iPad poetry idea: Put your magnetic words in a small cookie tin for your commute, and use the inside of the top as your screen. High-tech alternative, check out the virtual magnetic poetry kits online that offer the click-and-drag options.
  9. Write the local paper editor asking for more poetry–on the book pages or wherever it will fit. Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry is available free to newspapers.
  10. Consider poetic tweets and Facebook posts every day in April.
  11. And, of course, tune in to Poetic Asides, writing your poems for each day’s prompts and responding to the other poems posted there. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a lonely life.


Click here to learn more about Nancy Posey’s collection Let the Lady Speak.

And click here to check out her blog, The Discriminating Reader.


If you’re interested in contributing a guest post, click here to learn how to get the ball rolling.


Want another great idea for celebrating National Poetry Month?
Try submitting your poems with the help of the 2011 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This essential desk reference is loaded with poetry publishing opportunities and articles on the craft and business of poeming.

Click here to learn more.

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25 thoughts on “How to Celebrate National Poetry Month: Guest Post by Nancy Posey

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  5. Pam

    I love these ideas. I just reposted them on Facebook.

    I rather like the idea that I came up with by misreading one of Nancy’s…write your favorite poem on a piece of paper, roll it up, and put it into a bottle (of any sort–but clean and dry). Display the bottles somewhere until the end of National Poetry Month, at which time everyone gets to pick a bottle (not one’s own bottle) and have a poem to carry the poetry on beyond April. It might be something that a classroom, worship center, coffeehouse, etc., could do. (Now if I could only think of such a place to start this….)

  6. Nancy Posey

    Thanks for all the kind responses. Do keep me posted about what you do to celebrate the month! At the college, we’re having a poetry focus for our annual Writers Symposium–a month of poets and poetry.

  7. Andrew Kreider

    Thanks, Nancy! Such an encouraging post. I was dithering about whether to postpone a reading that I had scheduled for mid-April – but you have convinced me to carry on, and to make a renewed approach to our local college creative writing program to send students to join me. I’m inspired.
    What a great way to start my day.

  8. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Hey Nancy,

    Your #2 idea sounds like something I am currently working on.

    While cleaning our bathroom, my sweet husband threw away my favorite perfume bottle "Poeme" which was empty (he thought it was garbage). I was saving it because it’s my favorite perfume and, of course, because of the name as well. I love poems. He retrieved it for me, thank God. That incident gave me an idea for my next chapbook called "Poems in a bottle". I thought for sure no one had thought of it until I read your post just now (LOL). Though my chap will also be called "Poems in a bottle", what I am going to do this April is roll 10-15 poems inside a bottle, each poem a different color page, and then go as far out as I can and toss the bottle into the sea (like the movie) with my poems in it and see how far away it reaches. Inside it, I will also include my e-mail in case someone actually finds it and wants to let me know. It’s a silly idea, but this is what I’m doing come April 1st, besides the challenge of course.

    I also like the poem-in-a-stall idea, and the tweets. I might just do that.

    Facebook me your address. I’m definitely getting your chap. I do money orders only.


  9. de jackson

    Yay! I got my copies of "Let the Lady Speak" in the mail today! Signed! One with a message just for me! THANK YOU, Nancy! It’s like Christmas! The book looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to once again read all of your amazing work.
    Get your copies, ya’ll! If we poets don’t support each other, who’s gonna?

  10. Daniel Paicopulos

    great suggestions all, Nancy,thanks for sharing…I have been posting poems on Facebook, sometimes to start a thread and often to comment on someone else’s thoughts…it forces me to edit and the response is always gratifying…now, I’m looking for some clean, spare bottles…

  11. de jackson

    Great tips, Nancy. ‘Nother one: whenever you can afford to do so, buy TWO copies of every indie poet book you can get your hands on. One for yourself, one to share…and your poetic friend gets twice the sales! I have quite a collection of PA poets going, and I love it! 🙂

  12. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Dear Nancy…. Your enthusiasm and vibrancy positively lleaps off the page…taps one on the shoulder….I can see you smiling up just ahead waving all on with these wonderful ideas…. No one could feel alone with such bubbling optimism <3

  13. Helen Losse

    So good to see Nancy here on Poetic Asides. Everyone reading who hasn’t seen Nancy’s chapbook "Let the Lady Speak" ought to order a copy. Even better, if you can get one from Nancy at a reading. She really brings her subjects to life when she reads. Of course, her ideas for National Poetry Month are excellent, too.

  14. Colette ;D

    Number 6 is an absolutely ingenious way to spread the love of poetry. Great idea!!! To get children and young people enticed into enjoying poetry is a great subversive way to keep the verse alive! Thanks to Robert for the interview and to Nancy for the inspiring ideas. ;D


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