April is tax month, and every year a tiny portion of your federal tax dollars goes to support the arts. Poetry is among the arts supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, which gives grants to individual poets and also to organizations that present, publish, or promote poetry, providing indirect support for poets. The NEA has played a transformative and sustaining role in nurturing the literary magazines in which poets first publish their work, the presses that publish poetry books, and the literary centers that support readings and workshops.

Every year, Congress decides how much money will be given to the National Endowment for the Arts to be distributed all across America. You can let your Senators and Representatives in Congress know that the arts are important to you and either thank them for funding literature among the other arts or encourage them to increase funding levels. Fax, phone, or e-mail the elected officials from your state. If you are uncertain who represents you in Congress, check the official websites to find the listings for your area: www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

Poetry may or may not be funded at the state or local level, and you can find out by contacting your state arts agency. Check with the National Association of State Arts Agencies for contact information for every state. To find out how to directly contact legislators in your state government, or to find advocacy organizations that can help you, either ask your state arts agency or an arts advocacy group in your area.

Should you wish to meet in person with any of your elected officials to thank them or encourage them to continue support for the arts, including poetry, Americans for the Arts provides tips for meeting with your legislators.