New York, NY (March 30, 2015)— In celebration of National Poetry Month this April, the Academy of American Poets, the nonprofit organization behind National Poetry Month, is partnering with 826 National on “Read This Poem,” an initiative designed to highlight poets, celebrate poetry communities throughout the United States, and connect poets with students.

Co-founded by best-selling author Dave Eggers, 826 National is a network of award-winning nonprofit writing and literacy centers with chapters in Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

To kick off the “Read This Poem” project, each 826 chapter has selected a local poet to act as a “poetry ambassador” by writing about a poem that he or she admires by another local poet. The author of the poem selected then chooses another poem by a local poet to write about, and so on. The Academy of American Poets will feature these essays, along with the poems selected, every Wednesday in April on, as part of its National Poetry Month programming., produced by the Academy of American Poets, is the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry.

In addition to writing about a poem, poets participating in “Read This Poem” must agree to take a pledge of service to their local 826 chapter within the next year by hosting a reading, teaching a workshop, or committing to an in-school project.

"We are excited to be a national partner with the Academy of American Poets on this exciting project. Connecting students with local poets is one of the ways we inspire students to be writers, create a lifelong love of writing, and prove that writing can be a profession worth pursuing," said 826 National Chief Executive Officer Gerald Richards. “Poetry is all around us and emanating from our cities, and this project is a great way to display that artistry.”

“Read this Poem” was inspired by The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets and was piloted last year at 826CHI.  

"Poets and poetry are an essential part of our local and national culture. We couldn't be happier about partnering with our friends at 826 chapters nationwide on this special project, as well as our other education projects during National Poetry Month," said Academy of American Poets Executive Director Jennifer Benka.

The Academy of American Poets is also inviting local students in grades five through twelve to be a part of the Dear Poet project for National Poetry Month. To participate, students watch videos of award-winning poets, members of the organization’s Board of Chancellors, sharing their poems in a series of exclusive videos on Students then write a letter responding to one of the poems. Those who mail or email their letter to the Academy of American Poets by April 30, 2015 (Poem in Your Pocket Day) have a chance to receive a reply from the poet and have their letter featured on

Participating Chancellors include Toi Derricotte, Marilyn Hacker, Juan Felipe Herrera, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Naomi Shihab Nye, Arthur Sze, and C. D. Wright.

Local teachers interested in offering the project as a classroom activity can visit to access a free Common Core-aligned Dear Poet lesson plan.

For more details about these National Poetry Month initiatives, and for additional ways to celebrate, visit

About 826National

826National is a network of seven nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting under-resourced students with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. The organization’s mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. In the 2013-14 school year, 826 tutoring centers—located in Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.—served over 32,000 students.

About the Academy of American Poets

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the largest member-supported nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. In addition to National Poetry Month, the organization produces; Poem-a-Day; American Poets magazine; poetry readings and special events; and the American Poets Prizes, which reach many millions of individuals each year.

About National Poetry Month

Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world. The goals of National Poetry Month are to highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets, to encourage the reading of poems, to assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms, to increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media, to encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and to encourage philanthropic support for poets and poetry.