April is National Poetry Month

In both Canada and the United States, April is National Poetry Month, with official events scheduled all over North America.

In the United States, a good starting point is Poets.org where the month-long event is explained and where all sorts of poetry related material is collected:

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

In Canada, start with the Web site of the League of Canadian Poets where festivities are underway for the 12th annual event. This year, there’s a strong environmental tie-in. Since Earth Day also takes place in April, this seems like a natural link.

As a society we continue to change: politically, ecologically, culturally and economically. Poet and NPM participators across Canada will be exploring these topics through readings and events: how changing climates affect you, your community and the larger communities of Canada… and the world. Each day becomes a defining moment in our history. Do Climate Changes inspire you to write, to express your passion and compassion? Does change necessarily mean progress?

As well as thoughtful rhetoric, the site includes links to national events, contests and other poetry related material.

If Canadian poetry is what does it for you, definitely take a gander at Canadian Poetry 1920-1960 (New Canadian Library/M&S), a fantastic collection of the very best of Canadian poetry during the stated period and including 250 poems by 44 poets from all regions of the country. Writes editor Brian Trehearne:

The poets in this anthology … considered it one of their primary obligations to modernize Canadian writing, to bring the country’s poetry out of late Romantic stasis after the Great War into a fertile and combative response to the …. modern era.

Clearly, then, Canadian Poetry is not a book meant for armchair dreaming, but is a serious study of the animal under discussion. Don’t let that put you off. Fortunately, it takes more than examination from the ivory tower to dampen the verve found in this collection of voices. P.K. Page, Earle Birney, Irving Layton, Dorothy Livesay, so many more. Editor Brian Trehearne is a Professor in the Department of English at McGill University and he really knows his poetry, but he’s sometimes a bit of a buzz kill. Unless you love the smell of academia in the morning, don’t read the editor’s preface or afterword before you’ve engaged deeply in this river.

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