April is a big month for poetry. Along with being the National Poetry Month for the USA and Canada (established in 1996 and organised by the Academy of American Poets), there is also the NaPoWriMo, an initiative that encourages people to write a poem a day over the month. Here I’ve listed a few poetry initiatives that are worth a look, to keep you busy during April and beyond.

Finding poetry inspiration

Poetry films from Visible Poetry Project

Visible Poetry Project connects filmmakers with poets to produce one short film a day throughout April. The project has both renowned and emerging poets and explores a range of styles in their poetry films. They explain that it’s an ‘exercise in translation and a reclamation of both poetic and film discourses, the resulting thirty videos will explore how we read, interpret, visualize, and hear poetry’. Their Vimeo page is a rich resource for poetry films that grows each year. 

A poem a day from the Academy of American Poets

You can sign up for a Poem-a-Day and have new poems delivered to your inbox. An initiative that goes beyond April, it’s a lovely way to keep in touch with contemporary poetry, curated by guest editors. Each poem is also accompanied by a biography and a bit about the poem. A great way to escape from the relentless news cycle. 

#ShelterInPoems 

The Academy of American Poets has also started the hashtag #ShelterInPoems, which encourages readers to share poems that help them find ‘courage, solace, and actionable energy’ in these strange times. It’s an initiative for National Poetry Month, but one that is unique to 2020. During these unsettling times, it feels natural to turn to poetry as a way to think through our current situation. 

Sonnets read by Patrick Stewart 

Speaking of poetry finding a way into our hearts, from March Patrick Stewart starting reading one Shakespeare sonnet a day on Instagram. What was initially a once off was so well received it turned into a daily challenge. Emerging more out of measures for physical isolation, the project is nonetheless a great inspiration while celebrating poetry in April. 

Keeping up a poetry practice 

Write a daily poem during NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) was inspired by the National Novel Writing Month, established in 1999, which challenges people to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. The poetry version calls for a poem a day in April, encouraging people to overcome writer’s block and just keep writing. It can be a good challenge to do something a bit different with your writing and there are sites and facebook groups that help with prompts and accountability. 

Write a haiku about coronavirus 

For National Poetry Month sound artist Alan Nakagawa is calling for haikus from the public, specifically on the experience of the coronavirus pandemic. The selected poems will be made into a sound collage in collaboration with the Orange County Museum of Art, to be released on 23 April. 

Follow writing prompts 

On social media there are a plethora of writing prompts for poetry, especially during April. Some examples include Wednesday Writing Sessions from Bowery Poetry, which takes place on Instagram Live, or a great list of prompts on Twitter by Rachel McKibbens, a two-time poetry fellow for the New York Foundation. There is also a great list of events and resources put together by the NY Times that is worth a look. Even though it is USA-focused, much of it is available online. 

There are some great initiatives out there, many of which are now available virtually. You don’t need a large amount of time, a resource which is limited for many in these stressful times, but creating a regular practice for poetry has never been so necessary. 

What poems are keeping you going this April?

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