February 14, 2005 — In April, the Academy of American Poets will celebrate the 10th annual National Poetry Month, a program that the Academy established in 1996 to rally Americans to a greater appreciation of contemporary poetry.
"In 1996, the Academy launched an entire month devoted to promoting, publicizing, and celebrating poetry — something unheard of and perhaps even considered too ambitious at the time," observed Tree Swenson, executive director of the Academy. "But now, nearly ten years later, with the help and support of the entire literary field, National Poetry Month has become a beloved behemoth. With poets in the schools, poems on the radio, hundreds of book publications, and thousands of readings in April, millions of Americans will connect to the 'best words in their best order' — as Coleridge defined poetry."
From Boston to Los Angeles, Atlanta to Seattle, the Academy is proud to present a ten-city reading series to celebrate the 10th National Poetry Month. Gary Snyder, Jorie Graham, Heather McHugh, and Maxine Kumin are among the featured readers. Complete details about poets, dates, venues, and our literary partners can be found online.
To connect increasing numbers of readers with poetry, the Academy will unveil a new Poetry Book Club on its award-winning website. The Poetry Book Club will be exclusively web-based and offer a host of resources for lovers of poetry. Visitors to the Poetry Book Club will find:
- How-to suggestions for starting your own poetry book club
- Profiles of existing poetry reading groups
- Reading recommendations from leading poets
- A monthly list of new poetry releases, and much more
Empire State Building to Shine for Poetry on April 5
On Tuesday, April 5, the Empire State Building will honor the Academy of American Poets with a special blue-and-white lighting to mark the 10th celebration of National Poetry Month. The Academy's Executive Director, Tree Swenson, said, "We are so honored that the Empire State Building, a National Historic Landmark, will shine in honor of ten years of National Poetry Month on April 5. Over the past 10 years, National Poetry Month has made significant contributions to the cultural landscape of New York City, and we are so excited to be a part of the greatest skyline on earth for this one night."
On April 5, the Academy will host its third annual benefit, "Poetry & The Creative Mind," co-chaired by Jorie Graham and Rose Styron with honorary chair Meryl Streep, and featuring some of America's leading artists, scholars, and public figures reading favorite poems. Liam Neeson, Maya Lin, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, Gore Vidal, Dan Rather, Diane von Furstenburg, and Sam Waterston will be among the special guest readers.
This benefit was conceived as a celebration and exploration of the ways in which poetry helps shape America's culture by inspiring individuals in other fields. This event will take place at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, in New York. Tickets ($35, $50, and $75) are available by calling (212) 721-6500.
Poets.org, the premier online resource for poetry, will relaunch with a new look and a wealth of new content in April. Poets.org offers its 400,000 monthly users poems, poets, criticism, audio poetry, curriculum units, essays, news, and events, including biographies and electronic texts of poems by over 500 poets. Redesigned top to bottom by Ruder-Finn, Inc., Juxta Digital, and an all-new web staff at the Academy of American Poets, Poets.org will soon be the most sweeping, and attractive, poetry site on the web.
The first place to look for new books of poetry, the Academy's New Spring Books list features over 180 books of poetry that will be published this spring by the sponsors of National Poetry Month. Check out the list and browse sample poems online.
Chip Kidd, the internationally renowned book designer, created the National Poetry Month 2005 poster, which features Emily Dickinson's dress and a quotation from one of her letters: "Nature is a haunted house — but Art — is a house that tries to be haunted."
Each April, the Academy creates and distributes — for free — almost 200,000 official National Poetry Month posters to U.S. schools, libraries, bookstores, and community centers to help promote the month-long celebration.
7th Annual Young People's Poetry Week
Young People's Poetry Week (April 11-17) is a national celebration sponsored by the Children's Book Council that highlights the value of poetry for children and young adults by encouraging the public to bring more poetry into the home, the classroom, and childcare centers. The official Young People's Poetry Week 2005 poster was created by Karen Barbour and the 2005 Young People's Poetry Week poem was written by Nikki Grimes. Visit the Children's Book Council website for ideas and activities, including a Q&A with Nikki Grimes, poetry starters, party planning, a list of new poetry books, and much more.