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Join the NEA Foundation’s National Poetry Month Challenge

Rita dove, poet laureate of the united states, 1993-1995

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” – Rita Dove, Poet Laureate of the United States, 1993-1995

This month schools across the nation come together to recognize the poets and poetry that have made a huge impact on our culture. The celebration of National Poetry Month was instituted in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, its purpose being to promote poetry’s vital place in our culture. It is the largest celebration of literary arts in the world, creating extended learning opportunities through the spread of poetry into the classroom and into the hands of millions of students.

National nea poetry month challenge

During National Poetry Month there are two major ways for students, teachers and poetry-lovers to celebrate the art of poetry. Firstly, on Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2015, you can carry a poem in your pocket and share it with others throughout the day. Secondly, students can participate in the Dear Poet project by responding to the various poems read by acclaimed poets on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. In addition, anyone can order and display a free National Poetry Month poster, designed by award-winning artist Chipp Kidd.

Watch a reading with Juan Felipe Herrera for the “Dear Poet” project.

In the past, my school has brought students and teachers together to share their favorite poems by hosting poetry readings, thus extending learning opportunities into non-instructional time. This month, I was inspired by the creative ways to get involved in National Poetry Month and am putting forth a similar challenge to teachers and students across the nation.

All throughout the month of April, find and share several poems that speak to you in your school. Bonus points for sharing poems you wrote yourself! Find more information about how to host a poetry reading.

Online, students can get involved with this challenge by posting their favorite poems or original works on the NEA foundation Facebook page. As a student, it is important to know the value of poetry because it is a great way to develop your voice. Students can also challenge their teachers to host poetry readings, or to simply share their favorite poems in class as an innovative teaching tool.

Check out the NEA Foundation Facebook page for an upcoming poetry series. I’ll be introducing you to groundbreaking modern poets like Tony Hoagland and Cathy Song. These poets would be a great addition to any classroom.

Here’s wishing you a happy National Poetry Month!

Blessed Sheriff is a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. She will be attending Brown University in the fall.

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