Begun in 1996, National Poetry Month has swelled into quite the spring attraction. It occurs every April now, thanks to the original push by the American Academy of Poets, who remains the driving force behind its national recognition, to raise interest and appreciation for all kinds of poetry: old, new, major names, emerging poets, form, free verse, spoken word, slam poetry, etc.
Of course, the list goes on. Poetry is a form that is always changing and adapting to its culture and era.
We’re happy to kick off this month with last night’s reading with poet Alexandra Teague, and her collection Mortal Geography, the recent recipient of a California Book Award. Tonight at 7pm, we have readings in the store from two poets, Martha Collins (White Papers) and Kathleen Flenniken (Plume), just named Washington State Poet Laureate. But we don’t leave poetry to April exclusively. Come May, we’ll also see the widely acclaimed Meghan O’Rourke (Once).
There are also plenty of poetry events across the way at Richard Hugo House this month, with readings from the contributors to A Face to Meet the Faces anthology, Tara Hardy, Kathleen Flenniken, Elizabeth Colen, Peggy Shumaker, Amber Flora Thomas, slam poet Kit Yan, and more! Be sure and check out their calendar of events for further details.
And I’d just like to say a special welcome to the new Richard Hugo House Executive Director, Tree Swenson, former Executive Director of the American Academy of Poets!
This year, we also pay respects to a fair few powerful poets whose legacies have come to outlive them. The passing in recent weeks and months of the beloved and decorated poets Adrienne Rich, Ruth Stone, and Wisława Szymborska add a special sense of reverence to this month for many of us who carry its tradition.
As part of this year’s celebration, the American Academy of Poets has named Thursday, April 26th, Poem In Your Pocket Day. Simply select a poem dear to you, carry it with you all day, and share it with family, friends, and co-workers. Personally, my favorite poem is “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin (The Rain in the Trees), so I’ll probably be smuggling that around. But I wonder: what’ll you be packing?