Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. — Audre Lorde
April is national poetry month, and there is much to celebrate! From sage, ancient wisdom for us to ponder to whimsy rhymes that brighten our day, poetry takes countless shapes and forms. It truly is for everyone. Here are some ways you can participate in celebrating national poetry month across New York State:
The New York Public Library has incredible programming and events throughout the month. Maybe you’re feeling a little adventurous and you want to try an open mic night? If so, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has open mic nights every Monday this month. While you’re there, you may want to check out some of the other incredible poets and events slated for the month.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley region, check out the various writing workshops and events held by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild or attend one of the many poetry reading events held across the region! If you’ll be trekking much further north, there are some excellent events happening up in Buffalo and in the surrounding areas. You’ll definitely want to check out what is sure to be an amazing event with Jessica Q. Stark, where she reads and shares poetry and photographs from her must-have poetry collection, Buffalo Girl. Other events listed for the month can be found here.
Sometimes, poetry can be a little intimidating as a solo endeavor. Feeling adventurous? Learn more about the programs that the Finger Lakes Art Council has curated. You won’t want to miss their “collaborative poetry event with Clare Songbirds Publishing House and Artistic Impressions from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 7[th].” For those on Long Island, the Oceanside Library Poets in Residence Program will be hosting a Poetry Prompt Party at the Oceanside Library on April 27th from 7-8 pm. Find more Long Island events by visiting the Long Island Poetry Listings Facebook page.
Perhaps participating with poetry feels more natural when you’re outdoors? The poetry trail is a beautiful collaboration between the Morton Memorial Library in Pine Hill and the Catskill Visitor Center in Mount Tremper, New York. You can enjoy poetry and all of nature’s beauty during daylight hours. For those who prefer to enjoy poetry’s natural beauty indoors, The Old Forge Public Library in Old Forge New York will host its annual Community Poetry and Arts Contest Exhibit, which will offer visitors a chance to view the contest winners’ poetry and arts on display through April 22nd. What a beautiful way to celebrate a community!
Of course, it’s important to remember that our schedules are hectic, and maybe there just isn’t any time this month for you to get out to a poetry event, or to sit and write a poem of your own. A hectic schedule is no match for the power and joy of poetry; The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) created poetry machines that are reminiscent of those machines where you’d pop in a quarter, spin the handle, and get a small prize. If you’re in the area, the J.F. Farm Store and Cafe in Northville will be a temporary home for one of these fabulous little machines for the entire month of April! Check out the list of poems and poets on the website, and learn more about how you can get one of these nifty machines in a local place near you.
New York State is proud to celebrate poets and poetry. Visit your local library, community center, or local writers groups to find out more about how National Poetry Month is being celebrated by you. Enjoy!
Holly Spinelli is an advocate for equality through anti-racist, anti-bias, and anti-oppressive facilitation within and beyond the classroom. She is a 2011 Alice Trillin Teaching Award For Social Justice Work in New York Classrooms recipient. Holly continues to cultivate community-inspired work as an English teacher at Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley, New York, and as an adjunct instructor in the English Department at SUNY Orange County Community College. She is an Academy for Teachers fellow, an NCTE Open Educational Resources Fellow, and she served two terms as a member of the National Council of Teachers of English Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. Follow her on Twitter: @HolSpinny