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Featured Books: National Poetry Month

Posted on by Rebecca Ortenberg

This is my first memory:
A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky
     wood floor
A line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the center
Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply
     too short
           For me to sit in and read
So my first book was always big

“My First Memory (of Librarians)” by Nikki Giovanni

This year marks the 25th annual National Poetry Month, a celebration of poets and poetry organized by the Academy of American Poets. Each April since 1996, the Academy has encouraged readers of all ages to discover new poetry, organize poetry readings, attend poetry-themed events, and even try their hand at writing poetry themselves! As was the case last year, this year’s National Poetry Month celebrations are taking part online. With that in mind the Academy of American Poets has put together a slate of programs and activities that can be enjoyed from home. 

Looking for a new favorite poet? Want to plan a virtual poetry reading with friends? Seeking soothing words to help you through complicated times? Our librarians have put together a list of recommendations that are sure to help.

Print and E-Books 

  • Nature Poem by Tommy Pico
    In this mesmerizing long poem, a reluctant narrator veers uncomfortably between reflections on the natural world, the painful history of Native American oppression, and the unlikely solace found in popular American culture.
  • Songs and Stories of the Ghouls by Alice Notley
    The poems in this collection seek to restore power to mythical figures, including Dido and Medea, who have been oppressed and silenced throughout history.
  • Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
    The spare poems in this volume move jarringly between the city as battleground and nature as refuge.
  • The Blueness of the Evening: Selected Poems by Hassan Najmi
    The surreal short poems in this collection are the work of one of Morocco’s leading voices in modernist poetry.
  • The Ruined Elegance: Poems by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
    This collection of elliptical poems traverse literary and historical touchstones in the form of vignettes.
  • The Saddest Thing is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeine Gins Reader by Madeline Gins
    This collection brings together never-before published poems with other writings to present fresh insight into a visionary writer, architect, and cofounder of the Reversible Destiny Foundation.
  • On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems by Jayne Cortez
    Spanning more than three decades of poetry, this collection chronicles the legacy of human brutality with a jazz beat.
  • All the Poems by Stevie Smith
    This one-of-a-kind poet and illustrator explores themes that glide from quirky humor to lonely solitude. Each page is accompanied by a unique line drawing.

Audio/Visual

  • La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini
    Experience Franco Zeffirelli’s stunning 2014 production of Puccini’s classic opera about the love of the poet Rodolfo for the seamstress Mimi.
  • PennSound
    A vital resource for poetry lovers at Penn, this site, created by Penn’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, archives poetry readings, podcasts and PennSound Radio.
  • Kuwentuhan: Talkstory
    This short film traces the experience of a group of poets who emerge from a three-day residency and prepare to perform their new works in front of an audience.
  • La Rondine by Giacomo Puccini
    In Puccini’s wonderful early opera, the poet Prunier shares his latest poem about love

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