While here in the United States we have many different days to celebrate writing in all forms, including National Novel Writing Month in November and National Poetry Month in April (also celebrated in Canada), there is one day in March where writing is celebrated on a global scale. That day is World Poetry Day, which is celebrated on March 21st.
Declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999, the idea behind day is to promote reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world. According to their web page, UNESCO stated that: “One of the main objectives of the day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.” Also, “Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.”
Originally the day was celebrated in October, occasionally falling on Oct. 5th, or the 15th, the latter being the birthday of Virgil, the Roman poet, most notable for his epic poem The Aeneid. In some countries it is still common for these days to be used as dates for national or international poetry celebrations.
March is also the birth month of American Poet Robert Frost; he was born on March 26, 1874. Frost received many honors throughout his life including four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, the Congressional Gold Medal for poetry in 1960, and was named Poet laureate of Vermont in 1961.
This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Since its establishment, it has become the most widely known celebration of literature by schools, libraries and book dealers.
In order to get into the spirit of Poetry Month, the New Rivers Press staff and interns would like to share some of our favorite poem and poets. There a good amount of variety in this list, including both the works of classical poets, more modern and little known gems, and even some spoken word poems and songs. Please enjoy!
The works of Ryuichi Tamura, Galway Kinnell, and Ladan Osman
“This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams; “The Iceberg Theory” by Gerald Locklin; Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain, a book of poetry by James P. Lenfesty; and the works of poet and songwriter Ani DiFranco, particularly her song “Grey”.
The works of John Keats, Robert Frost, and Edger Allan Poe
When We Were Very Young, a book of poetry by A. A. Milne; and “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
The spoken word poems of Andrea Gibson; the spoken word poem “Only the Good Die Young” by Jackie Hill, available on youtube; “Snow” by Timothy Steele; “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)” by William Shakespeare; “Empty Frame with Symmetrical Flowers, 20¢” by Julie Gard (recently published by NRP in Home Studies.)
We would also like to share a poem written by Tim Nolan, an author who has worked with New Rivers Press on multiple occasions in the past.
Tim Nolan is the author of The Sound of It, winner of the Many Voices Project in poetry in 2008, as well as a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry in 2009. He has published two books of poetry with New Rivers Press, and will be releasing a third this fall, to be titled The Field.
The following is a poem published in Nolan’s second book with New Rivers Press, And Then.
by Tim Nolan
I love the small words
then and now and once.
How do they say so much? Yet
and because, not to mention,
and—I love how and becomes
the stars the moon the wind.
And what about if? You could
write a treatise on if. You might
lisp on if. But it would send you
off to the speculative realm.
And was and is and has been—
these are mere conditions of timing,
something for the tense masters.
While frog and goat and roast
belong to the real place—the grit,
the shit, the sand, as the fires
bank low, and the wind, as the stars rise.
From all of us at New Rivers Press: have a wonderful National Poetry Month!