Academy of American Poets Announces Virtual Programs for National Poetry Month as People Turn to Poems in an Unprecedented Moment

New York, NY (March 31, 2020)— Tomorrow, April 1, marks the beginning of National Poetry Month, an occasion launched by the Academy of American Poets to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. As we face an unprecedented circumstance, National Poetry Month has taken on new meaning and importance.

More and more people are turning to poetry at this moment, because amid fear and uncertainty, poetry and inspiring language can help bring solace and needed strength.

In the past week alone (March 23 through March 29), traffic to the website Poets.org increased by nearly 32% over the previous week, with more than 1.4 million visits. Last week more than 4,000 individuals signed up to receive Poem-a-Day in their in-boxes, which is double the average number of new subscribers the Academy of American Poets typically sees. 

This National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets is more committed than ever to doing everything it can to bring poetry to the widest possible audience. The organization offers the following activities, initiatives, and resources, which have been adapted so that anyone can join in online and at home and—hopefully—find comfort, resilience, and connection throughout the month of April and beyond.

Official Online Information Hub

Poets.org is the official information hub for National Poetry Month; here you will find many resources, including a list of 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month online and at home.

Poetry Near You

The Academy of American Poets encourages you to add your online poetry readings and virtual events to the national Poetry Near You calendar on Poets.org. In addition to this special listing, the Academy has produced a Best Practices for Virtual Events and Readings resources page to ensure your digital event is accessible.

Poetry for the Virtual Classroom

The Academy of American Poets produces Dear Poet, a multimedia education project that invites students in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems shared by award-winning poets serving on the organization’s Board of Chancellors, including Natasha Trethewey, Brenda Hillman, Marilyn Chin, and Joy Harjo, as well as poets laureate from across the country. The poets recite their poems in a series of exclusive videos presented on Poets.org. Teachers interested in offering Dear Poet as a virtual classroom activity can use this free lesson plan that accompanies the videos. Students can email their response letters to [email protected] by April 30. Selected letters will receive a reply from the poet and will be featured on Poets.org in May.

In addition to Dear Poet, the Academy produces Teach This Poem, an award-winning, weekly series that helps teachers and students engage with the art of poetry, as well as lesson plans and tips for teachers to help bring poetry into the virtual classroom.

National Poetry Month Poster

To aid in your celebrations at home, free copies of the official 2020 National Poetry Month poster, which was designed by tenth grader Samantha Aikman from Richmond, Vermont, are available through Poets.org while supplies last and as a downloadable PDF. In partnership with the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English, the Academy of American Poets will distribute 100,000 National Poetry Month posters to teachers, students, and individuals throughout the United States.

Poem-a-Day: Curated by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo in April

The Academy’s flagship program, Poem-a-Day, is a popular way for audiences to engage with poetry every single day. Anyone can sign up at Poets.org to receive a free poem in their inbox each morning; during the week the series features previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets, and on the weekends it features classic poems from the public domain. This April, the series will feature weekday poems selected by guest editor Joy Harjo, the nation’s current poet laureate.

National Media Resource

Throughout the year and especially in April, the Academy of American Poets responds to media inquiries about poetry in the United States and American poets, reaching out to members of the media to encourage coverage of poets and poetry. Jennifer Benka, President & Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, is available for phone interviews. Media interested in booking Jennifer can contact Michelle Campagna at: (212) 274-0343, ext. 22 or by writing [email protected].

Hashtag: #NationalPoetryMonth 

Follow the virtual National Poetry Month celebrations happening across the country by using the official hashtag, #NationalPoetryMonth. Tweet your online readings or virtual events to the Academy of American Poets @POETSorg so the organization can re-share.

Shelter in Poems

Since so many individuals have been turning to poetry to get through this difficult time, the Academy of American Poets has launched a new initiative called Shelter in Poems. To participate, readers are invited to share a poem from the Poets.org collection that helps find courage, solace, and actionable energy, along with a few words about how or why it does so, on social media with the hashtag #ShelterinPoems or by writing to [email protected]. The Academy will be selecting responses to feature in a new weekly newsletter and on Poets.org. Teachers can incorporate this project in their virtual classrooms by using the free Shelter in Poems Lesson Plan.

Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30

On Poem in Your Pocket Day, individuals are invited to select a poem—perhaps one that offers hope in this current moment—and share it with others throughout the day. The Academy of American Poets provides free resources for celebrating National Poem in Your Pocket Day, including a downloadable PDF of pocket poems on Poets.org. Poem in Your Pocket Day was launched in 2002 by the New York City Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets expanded the initiative nationally, and in 2016 to Canada in partnership with the League of Canadian Poets. People can share their poems online using the official hashtag #pocketpoem.
 
National Poetry Month Sponsors and Partners

The Academy of American Poets’ activities and programming are only possible with the support of National Poetry Month Sponsors and Partners, including 826 National, ABRAMS, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Betsy South Beach Hotel, Bilingual Press, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Glen Hollow, Graywolf Press, National Council of Teachers of English, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, O, Miami, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, Poetry Foundation, Poets & Writers, Scholastic Inc., Strand Books, W. W. Norton & Company, media partner WNYC, and more.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is our nation’s leading champion of poets, poetry, and the work of poetry organizations. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; Teach This Poem and other resources for K-12 educators; an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and awards the American Poets Prizes. The organization also coordinates the work of a national Poetry Coalition working to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.