April poetry celebrations!

It is nearly April, one of my favorite months: NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!  And I will once again be continuing my annual tradition of sharing poetry in picture books (read and culled for you all year long).  This is definitely a niche market and yet it continues to thrive in a variety of fascinating ways.  There are many treats ahead, but if poetry isn’t your thing and you really don’t want to read about them, you can ignore the daily posts with “NPM” in the titles if you must.  There will still be a few Simply 7 interviews sprinkled throughout as well.  This is just a tiny advance warning of what is to come.

As we prepare to celebrate though, I’ve been thinking about the month of April which is slowly turning into spring here in Alaska.  It seems ever so right that of all the months chosen, April is the month to celebrate poetry.  The world is beginning to come alive, things are starting to emerge again from their blankets of snow, days are becoming longer as light returns, and there is the hope of green soon.  A celebration of poetry, of the blossoming of words in wonderful ways that make my soul soar, seems to be timed ever so appropriately for this time of year.  What a wonderful combination!

I admit, it always makes me cringe when I hear someone say that they hate poetry.  And I think to myself, “What horrible way were you exposed to it?”  Because every year when I share poetry on Valentine’s day (a decade long tradition at least!) I hear it.  “I hate poetry, but I like the ones you pick.”  I understand.  Poetry seems like an academic esoteric thing sometimes that is out of our reach.  BUT this is why I share during the month of April from PICTURE books!  It’s accessible to anyone, to children even!

I was saddened to hear Lee Bennett Hopkins say last fall at my Highlights poetry workshop that only 60 books are published per year in the genre of poetry for children (NOT including the boom of novels in verse that’s starting to happen).  That’s just a drop in the bucket of books that are published every year!  Poetry is for everyone and it’s worth sharing.

This is something I love and I’m passionate about.  Forgive me if this seems preachy.  WHY do I say all this here and now?  Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about whether or not I should continue this April tradition.  Ultimately, I decided I would because I love it.  If I do it only for me, that’s worth it.  And I love that I might help spread the word about picture books that might otherwise be overlooked.

In that vein, I’m going to ask that we (you and I both, my dear readers) need to support these small niche books too.  Check them out or request them from the library.  Buy them.  Review them on amazon, Goodreads, etc.  Share them.  Gift them.  Any way you can support the poets I will be sharing this next month would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, let’s end on a happy illustration note.  This year, for the first time ever, the National Poetry month poster was designed by a high school student and it is well done.  YEAH!  Again, HOW appropriate for what I want to share with you this year.  Let the blossoming of words soon begin!

About jenabenton

I'm an elementary school teacher, writer, illustrator and storyteller.

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