April is National Poetry Month

National Poetry month began in 1996.  Today it is considered “the largest literary celebration in the world” according to the Academy of American Poets website.

Here are a few ideas of how to celebrate National Poetry month:

  • Consider joining the Academy of American Poets “Poem a Day digital series.”    During the week, new and unpublished poems by current poets will arrive in your email.  On weekends  you will find classic poetry. This is a free service.
  • Check out the Academy of American Poets youtube channel.  The channel offers many poems to choose from.  Most of them are read by the authors themselves.   
  • Consider reading a poem a day each day for the month of April.  There are some great authors to help you get started.  

Where the Sidewalk Ends 

by Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk EndsSilverstein opens this childhood classic with an invitation. “If you are a dreamer, come in, If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hop-er, a prayer-er, a magic bean buyer..If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire for we have some flax-golden tales to spin.  Come in! Come in”

The book is a collection of Silverstein’s poetry and drawings.

It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles

By Jack Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky

This is a hilarious collection of Prelutsky’s poetry that children will love.  Filled with stories, puns, jokes, and tales of animals and make believe, this will soon become a childhood favorite.

Feel the Beat: Dance poems that zing from salsa to swing

By Marilyn Singer

Feel The Beat

This is a collection of poetry about dance.  There is an audio CD included that features the poet reading to the music for each dance mentioned.

Modern Day Poets:

Many times people think of poetry as being something old fashioned or dead.  Here are three modern day poets who will get you excited to read poetry again.  

Milk and Honey

By Rupi Kur

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur originally self published “Milk and Honey.”  The book had  a huge following and made it to the New York Times best seller list.  Kaur’s poetry talks about pain and how to navigate through life’s toughest moments. This is available as a digital download ebook through OverDrive

Stags Leap

By Sharon Olds

Stags Leap by Sharon Olds

This is a collection of poetry that was written during Olds’ divorce.  In her poems, she tackles issues such as the loss of love, sorrow and finding herself. Olds won the T.S. Elliot award for poetry for this book.   

The Surrender Tree : Poems of Cuba’s struggle for freedom

By Margarita Engle

The Surrender Tree by Margaritta Engle

 

Engle was awarded the  Newbery Honor Award for this book.  This book is a collection of poetry that  chronicles the struggles that Cuba has faced and the country’s continuing fight for freedom.

Do you have a favorite poem or a favorite poet?  We would love to hear in the comments below.

Happy Reading 🙂

Shakespeare Day!

To celebrate, or not to celebrate? That is the question, but the answer is: Of course! April 23 is National Shakespeare Day!

Baptized on April 26, 1564, William Shakespeare is widely considered to be the greatest writer of the English language, having works ranging from plays to poems, as well as being an actor himself. He was born in raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Not much is known about his early life except at the age of eighteen, he married the much-older Anne Hathaway and had three children with her. He traveled to London sometime between 1585 and 1592 and became a successful writer, actor, and part-owner of a playing company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men. He retired to Stratford around 1613, around the age of 49, where he died three years later.

Little else is known about Shakespeare, except that he wrote and produced 37 plays during his time in London, ranging from comedies, including Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, to historical dramas, like Richard III, Henry IV, V, and VI, to tragedies, such as Hamlet, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus. He also wrote 154 sonnets as well as narrative poetry. Shakespeare set the bar that many other writers would follow, influencing generations of writers still today. If you’re interested in learning more about William Shakespeare, follow this link to books in our collection about his life.

So, how can the Aurora Public Library District help you celebrate National Shakespeare Day? Well, you can check out DVDs based on his plays and life, as well as modern retellings of his classic plays. I think it is important to read Shakespeare, but I think it is even more important to watch Shakespeare to really understand him. There is nothing quite like watching words on the page come to life before your eyes, in period costumes with facial expressions and vocal intonations to help you to really grasp the play.

You can also check out copies of his plays and poems to read for yourself, if you’d like to let the words wash over you and give yourself time to process what takes place in each scene, or what each poem is really trying to say. There are physical copies as well as digital copies through the Indiana Digital Download Center. The Aurora Public Library District has a collection of No Fear Shakespeare titles, which puts the original text side-by-side with modern-day language in order to make it easier to understand. This will definitely come in handy if you want more depth to the play.

I am continually amazed at how relevant the themes of the plays are to today, even though Shakespeare’s time was almost 500 years ago. The language might seem archaic, but if you dig deeper until you find the meaning behind the prose, you’ll be surprised, too. Shakespeare was a genius at capturing humans, from their words to the words they weren’t speaking, but that their body language, facial expressions, and tones would show. If you ever get the chance to see one of Shakespeare’s plays in person, I highly recommend that you take it.

How will you celebrate National Shakespeare Day? I think I’ll reread my favorite play, Hamlet, and then watch The Lion King, which is what the Disney movie is based off of. Pretty cool, huh?

Happy Reading!