To the Poets! by Catherine Foster

 

It’s April! What does that mean to the writing community the world over? Unfortunately, not necessarily a warming trend in the weather (I speak for the Midwest region of the United States in particular, which is encased in ice at present), but something far more important: an annual celebration of poets and poetry! That’s right: April is known as APAD (April Poem A Day), APAD (A Poem A Day) or even the impressive NaGloPoWriMo (National/Global Poetry Writing Month), but whatever you choose to call it, the idea behind the titles are all the same. We’re coming together to support the sometimes overlooked cornerstones of our writing community and give them the attention they so richly deserve.

You might be thinking that I chose a strange metaphor. How can a cornerstone be overlooked? How are poets cornerstones at all? They are usually characterized as whimsical, artistic and freethinking. This may the case, but true poets have an understanding of diction and syntax that allows them to play with language in a way that other writers can’t. Prose writers are restricted by rules of grammar, while poets are able to create sounds and even language to suit their purpose. Edgar Allan Poe and Dr. Seuss made new words that eventually became an enduring part of our lexicon even today.  However, gifted poets are not without their own limitations. They must understand the rules, particularly if they are constructing a delicate verse such as a haiku or a highly refined ghazal. To walk within the strictest boundaries of language to create an excess of emotion in the reader is a talent that takes a lifetime to cultivate. To be a successful poet takes diligence, patience, education, talent and creativity. These are the qualities of accomplished writers, as well, but because a poem is emotion pared to its finest element and every word must earn its way, the poet is the cornerstone of excellent literature. They inspire and they show us how language can be devastating or beautiful, by turns.  The pursuit of such a gift in these talented populations is what we celebrate each April. To all poets and their accomplishments out there, we at The LetterWorks salute you!

There are some places that have an organized an effort to lead an APAD participation group. Here are a links to a few of the more notable ones with rules and subcategories:

Writer’s Digest, April Poem-A-Day Challenge:

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-genre/poetry/poem-a-day

 

The Writer’s Dig:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/april-is-poetry-month-ready-for-our-poem-a-day-challenge

 

Poetic Asides:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/2012-april-pad-challenge-guidelines

 

A poem a day in April:

http://april-is.tumblr.com/tagged/signup

 

The Poetry Foundation:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/76608/april

 

Whether you participate formally by joining a group in the style of NaNoWriMo or if you just increase your awareness and appreciation for the form by reading a poem in April, it’s a matter of celebrating this art form. There are so many styles of poems out there to suit every reader. Some of us have been conditioned by our years in school to consider poetry a stuffy and boring relic of the past. That can be true—for some. In my personal experience, I had a comprehensive education of the Fireside poets (Longfellow, Cullen Bryant, Emerson, etc.), which ignited my interest but may have dulled someone else’s. For every Emily Dickinson, there’s a Maya Angelou. For every Robert Frost, there’s an Ntozake Shange. For every Shakespeare, there’s a Shel Silverstein. This is a time of renewed vigor for so many new poets; it’s a revolution. You don’t have to be educated in this form to appreciate it, so don’t be intimidated! The great beauty of poetry is that it just has to make you feel; a successful poet will touch your soul with a few well-written verses. This April, come join us in celebrating by writing or reading a new or favorite poem today!

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