Hack National Poetry Month

Every April in the United States, we celebrate National Poetry Month (NPM), a time for honoring the poets and poems that have influenced our culture and our personal lives. Libraries across the country are celebrating National Poetry Month in a multitude of ways, from hosting poetry readings and poetry slams to offering poetry writing workshops. The following is a list of things you can read, write, watch, and do get the most out of this year’s celebrations. Enjoy!


Try these poems about libraries and librarians:

The Libraries Didn’t Burn by Elaine Equi

My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni

In the Library by Charles Simic

And take a look at these scholarly readings on poetry and libraries:

The Poet and the Library: An Interview with Judson Mitcham by Cheryl Stiles

This article, from the Spring 2013 issue of Georgia Library Quarterly, is an interview with Georgia’s Poet Laureate, Judson Mitcham. In the article, Mitcham discusses how libraries have both inspired and supported his artistic endeavors. (Note: This article may be accessed thanks to Kennesaw State University’s Digital Commons.)

Digital Poetry: A Look at Generative, Visual, and Interconnected Possibilities in its First Four Decades by Christopher Funkhouser

Published as Chapter 17 in A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (2008), this essay discusses the ways digital capabilities such as hyperlinks and interactive graphics are changing the way people read and write poetry.

Research Support for Creative Writers: Bolstering Undergraduate Fiction and Poetry through Library Instruction by Julia Glassman

This article is courtesy of the December 2014 issue College & Research Libraries News. It sheds light on the fact that poets and fiction writers often have to conduct research to substantiate the information found in their writings, and it discusses the particularities of researching for the purpose of producing a creative work.

Librarian as Poet / Poet as Librarian by Erin Dorney

This essay is featured on In the Library with the Lead Pipe and offers insights from poet-librarians about navigating those two roles.


Find some poetry. The idea of found poetry is that you use the words around you–signs, newspapers, overheard conversations, etc.—and make poems out of them. What better place to find a poem than library? School Library Journal offers some tips for finding book spine poems, and the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library provide guides for using pre-created texts to create blackout or collage poetry, or poetry created by circling, cutting out, or highlighting certain words in a text.


The Library of Congress—home base for the United States Poet Laureate—produces excellent poetry programming each year. Recent programs in the Bagley Wright Lecture Series feature poets Joshua Beckman, Timothy Donnelly, and Terrance Hayes discussing their work and the state of poetry in general. LOC also offers footage from a poetry slam held during the 2014 National Book Festival, and even a two-part, nearly 400-minute recording of a marathon reading of Emily Dickinson’s works. Needless to say, they’re serious about poetry at the LOC.


Follow #npm15. As always, TONS of good stuff is being shared on Twitter. Check here for ideas for poetry programs, never-before-seen poems by some of your favorite poets, and general poet love. And while you’re on social media, check out the Pinterest board the Library of Congress created specifically for NPM.

Host a poetry slam, open mic, or poetry recitation contest. YALSA published an excellent guide to hosting a poetry slam or open mic at your library. Though written with youth services library folks in mind, this guide can be adapted to suit the needs of any community. If you’re interested in poetry recitation, Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest, has a comprehensive list of poems suitable for memorization and recitation, and the poems are even organized by length, poetic form, and date.

Complete one (or all!) of the Academy of American Poets’ thirty activities for celebrating NPM.

Bring NPM to your library. The Academy of American poets has produced a handy guide for librarians with ideas for NPM displays, programs, outreach, and more.

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