Five Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Do you want to slow down and appreciate the little things in life?  Do you want to watch and ponder the lone crow sitting on a distant branch? To consider how someone’s eyes can hold you as firmly as his hands? To sense that slight shift in mood when a rhythm changes?  Poetry can help.

April is National Poetry Month.  To help celebrate, here are five ways to experience how poetry affects what we feel, see, and think.


See what’s on your bookshelves at home.  Pull out the liner notes of CDs or cassettes.  Flip through literature anthologies and poetry books at the library.  Browse used book sales or shops and try to find poems that have been marked up by other people.  Try to find poems that you read years ago.  How does it feel to read them again? Has your understanding changed?

Look online.  AU’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences offers an online collection of information about Canadian writers whose works are studied in AU’s language and literature courses.  Learn about poets such as E.  Pauline Johnson, Earle Birney, Robert Kroetsch, and more.

Subscribe to Poem-a-Day or Poem-of-the-Day to have poems delivered to your inbox.  The benefit of this type of service is that you’re experiencing works you might not otherwise think of choosing on your own.

As you read, ask questions.  What do you like about a particular poem?  What do you dislike?  What elements poked you or nudged you somewhere you didn’t think you’d go? What isn’t clear?  Find some poems that resonate, that create a shift in feeling, perspective, or thought.  Explore with an open and curious mind.


Find some Magnetic Poetry.  These kits contain little rectangular, magnetic pieces with words printed on them.  You can use them on your fridge, filing cabinet, or even a plain old flat surface that lacks the magic of magnetism.  They’re loads of fun—especially if you have co-workers, roommates, or family members who continually sabotage your efforts.

Or, take out a black marker, some whiteout or correction tape, a pair of scissors, and some newspapers, magazines, or old books and play around with making found poetry.


Listen to the rhythms, sounds, pacing, and unique vocal qualities of the author or reader to add more meaning and experience to poems you had only read on paper before.

If it’s possible, choose one poem and compare audio versions of it.  For instance, compare Tennyson’s reading of his own “Charge of the Light Brigade” to more contemporary readings.  Compare a traditional reading of Marlowe’s “Live with Me and Be My Love” to Annie Lennox’s version.

Get some friends together and challenge yourselves to read the same poem but in different ways (with or without an open bottle of wine on the coffee table).

I like the podcast Read Me a PoemIn each episode, the host, Amanda Holmes, introduces and then reads one poem.  No special effects or excess commentary.  The reading is simple and lovely.  I almost always listen to an episode a few times to let the poem stir and settle within me.


Use the search function of your streaming service of choice and see what comes up for poetry.  Kanopy, a streaming service provided by many public libraries, has documentaries on Diane di Prima, Derek Walcott, Al Purdy, Billy Collins, and more.

Movies about poetry I’d like to watch (or rewatch) in the coming weeks include Dead Poets Society (1989), Benediction (2021), A Quiet Passion (2016), and Paterson (2016).  An often-forgotten source for movies is a public library.  Ask and you might receive.

Practice and Share

Every April Writer’s Digest offers an online Poem-A-Day challenge (PAD Challenge).  Visit the site each day in April to get a prompt for writing your own poem.  Writers from around the world participate.  You can share your poem on the website or simply write your poems to keep or share in your own way.

Share your favourite poems or lines from poems with friends, family, and your online network.  Read some Dennis Lee, Edward Lear, and Shel Silverstein with your kids.  Use some sidewalk chalk to share a poem on your driveway or parking space.

It’s so easy to add a bit of poetry to your April days.  I hope you do.