April is National Poetry Month

  • 04/06/2024
  • 14:03
  • maureen

April is National Poetry Month

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? If you already read poetry and love getting lost in the magic of words and verse, or have been intrigued but need help knowing where to start, check out the recommendations below! 

We have invited members of our local poetry groups to help you discover a book or two — from haikus to free verse, poetry for children, and more! And, be sure to check out our selection of poetry in our Local Author Collection! 

Bobbie Panek: 

The word poetry sounds like music. What is poetry? Words that lift, inspire, bring you to depths of despair. Sometimes rhyme. Oftentimes resonate. Poetry could be sing-song silly, serious sonnets, short lines of haiku about nature, verses written to: a lover, friend, sister, child and numerous other forms.

There are many wonderful books of poetry. Some of Bobbie’s favorites are:

And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou  

A black woman whose poetry and books sing from the pages. She writes real, unafraid to say how she feels.

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman 

Gorman, a young woman of color, an activist with clear messages, internal rhymes, has a powerful, inspiring voice.

Additional recommendations:

Rumi: The Book of Love, Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
Rumi an ancient soul, philosopher and scholar in mid 13th century, He captured life in poetic prose. His writings are as meaningful today as they were 700 years ago.

View With a Grain of Sand by Wislawsa Szymborska
Szymborska’s works are translated from Polish. She writes about every subject you can imagine and finds poetic tension everywhere. She has an incredible, ordinary point of view.

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
Oliver is an old soul. Lives by the ocean and finds herself there most mornings before sunrise. She astounds us with the simplicities of sea shells, spiders, lovers, and sand.

bill berry:

bill is a retired senior-level university administrator with over 33 years of service at various institutions. He currently serves as a consultant on issues centering on equity, inclusion, diversity, and retention-oriented customer service while continuing his stance as an activist scholar commenting on a variety of social justice issues. He publishes aaduna, a global, online multicultural literary and visual arts journal.

Here are selections hand-picked by bill for families and our younger audience:

Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins

A lyrical, empowering poem that celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young ones to dream big and achieve their goals.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat Edited Nikki Giovanni

More than 50 poems and an accompanying CD introduce poetry with a beat.

I have been a fan of Nikki Giovanni forever! Her poetry continues to empower my spirit while her work emboldens me to soar. Without her knowing it, she was one of my shero pillars when “aaduna” was found 2010. But here is the backstory.

While the executive assistant to the college president and chair of the African American History Month Committee, Ms. Giovanni was invited and accepted to read at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY. I arranged for a faculty member to host a dinner at his house once I settled on a menu, and then prepared, and served a dinner in her honor with Black faculty and staff. Graciously, she thanked me publicly before her lecture/reading at RCC and then sent me a handwritten note of gratitude that lies hidden {somewhere}  in my Auburn home. That is the graciousness of Ms. Giovanni.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children is grounded in Nikki’s sense of universal culture and contemporary expressions of dialogue and rhythmic phrasing. It is a gift to the next generation who are  defining American and world-wide culture.

Additional recommendations:

Fortune’s Bones – the Manumission Requiem by Marilyn Nelson
Presents a collection of poems written to honor the life of Fortune, a slave in eighteenth-century Connecticut whose body was donated to science upon his death.

The Blacker The Berry: Poems by Joyce Carol Thomas
A collection of poems, including “Golden Goodness,” “Cranberry Red,” and “Biscuit Brown,” celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.

There Is a Flower At the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me by Alice Walker
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist pens this ode to the natural world and our place in it by celebrating the connections and interconnections between self, nature and creativity.

“It started in 1975 when I purchased and read “Good Night Willie Lee I’ll See You In The Morning” poems by Alice Walker. It continued in 1992 with her” Possessing The Secret of Joy.” It continued in 1993 with “Warrior Marks, Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women written with Pratibha Parmar. And it was furthered in 1996 with her “The Same River Twice, Honoring the Difficult.” And for years into a new century, I remain amazed by the lyrical writing and sense of purpose that Alice Walker exhumes in her writing and editing.  Ms. Alice Walker is a global literary wonder to be exprienced!

Jim Ellis:

Local Auburnian, Jim Ellis, has led several poetry clubs and meetings over the years. Jim was more than happy to chime in and recommend Nobel Prize winner, Tomas Tranströmer!

What’s so great about him? Why did he get the Nobel Prize? His poems aren’t technically sophisticated, there’s nothing cutting-edge about them. In fact, the critic Helen Vendler called them prehistoric. Which, she meant as a compliment.

Tranströmer is a master of accurate, startling visual imagery. He’s been called a “buzzard poet” for that kind of vision, and during his award ceremony in 2011, the Nobel Committee said it best: You can never feel small after reading the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer.

Tomas Tranströmer: selected poems

Tomas Tranströmer’s poems are thick with the feel of life lived in a specific the dark, overpowering Swedish winters, the long thaws, and brief paradisal summers in the Stockholm archipelago. He conveys a sense of what it is like to be a private citizen in the second half of the twentieth century.

Bright Scythe: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer selected poems

These new translations by Patty Crane, presented side-by-side with the original Swedish, are tautly rendered and elegantly cadenced. They are also deeply informed by Crane’s personal relationship with the poet and his wife during the years she lived in Sweden, where she was afforded greater insight into the nuances of his poetics and the man himself.

Seymour Library Recommends

How Fire Descends by Serbiy Zhadab

Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan has brought international attention to his country’s struggle through his unflinching poetry of witness. In this searing testament to poetry’s power to define and defy injustice, Zhadan honors the memory of the lost and addresses the living, inviting us to consider what language can offer to a country threatened with extinction. Young lovers, marginalized outsiders, and ordinary citizens pulse with life in a composite portrait of a people newly unified by extremity. Even in the midst of enemy fire, Zhadan’s lyrical monuments beat with a subterranean thrum of hope

Suddenly We by Evie Shockley

In her new poetry collection, Evie Shockley mobilizes visual art, sound, and multilayered language to chart routes towards openings for the collective dreaming of a more capacious “we.” How do we navigate between the urgency of our own becoming and the imperative insight that whoever we are, we are in relation to each other? Beginning with the visionary art of Black women like Alison Saar and Alma Thomas, Shockley’s poems draw and forge a widening constellation of connections that help make visible the interdependence of everyone and everything on Earth.

Additional suggestions:
School of Instructions by Ishion Hutchinson
So To Speak by Terrance Hayes
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
What You Want by Maureen N. McLane

Check out poetry from our local author collection:

Just Another Day by Bobbie Dumas Panek
Morning Walks zen meditations by Bobbie Dumas Panek
Tillable Soil by Heidi Nightengale
Steel Threads by Judith Trice
I Got a Mule – Poems about Syracuse and the Erie Canal by Joan Cofrancesco

Not sure what poetry will speak to you or do you want to learn more?
Visit These Online Poetry Resources:

Some of the above book reviews have been collected from Good Reads and Novelist.