Friday, April 1, 2011

Celebrate! April is National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month was inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets and has been held annually since. Thousands of not-for-profits, businesses, teachers, librarians and writing groups plan festivals, readings and workshops revolving around poetry. Some ideas for you to participate are to add a poem to your e-mail footnote, post a poem on your blog, sign up to receive a poem-a-day via email ( and celebrate with poem lovers across the country on April 14 during national "Carry A Poem in Your Pocket Day." Select a favorite poem and share it with others.

The U.S Poet Laureate for October 2010-May 2011 is W.S. Merwin. Since 1937, the United States Library of Congress has appointed an official "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress." The duties are kept to a minimum so holders of this position may have time to write. The poet laureate gives an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry and usually introduces poets in the Library's annual poetry series held since the 1940's in the Washington, D.C. area . (See video chat with Merwin on left side bar.)

Mr. Merwin is a poet, translator and environmental activist. He lives, writes and gardens at his home on Maui. He has become one of the most widely read and imitated poets in America. He is the son of a minister and began his writing career at age five writing hymns. Over the years, his themes have moved from the formal and medieval to a more distinctly American voice. Mr. Merwin has won numerous international and national prizes including twice for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a National Book Award.

Idaho does not have a poet laureate but instead a "Writer-in-Residence." He is novelist Brady Udall. Professor Udall will serve through June 2013. He has authored The Lonely Polygamist and Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. He is an associate professor in the M.F.A. creative writing program at Boise State University. Writer-in-Residence is the highest literary recognition in the state, replacing the former position of state Poet Laureate. It pays $2,666 per annum and his duties include presentations of twelve public readings during his three-year term, eight of which must be in rural communities. He may be required (by the overseer, the State Arts Commission) to give three more readings at special public events.

For The Anniversary of My Death by W.S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

Mr. Merwin will appear April 27 at the Egyptian Theater in Boise at 7:30PM. Tickets are $12 for student up to $35. A special reception with Mr. Merwin, "I Think Therefore Iambic," is scheduled from 6:00-7:00pm that night and tickets are $25. For tickets, call The Cabin, 208-331-8000 or


Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Thanks for the reminder about National Poetry Month. I also enjoyed the sidebar video of the Merwin interview. Makes me want to read more of his work. How about a "Speak Only in Iambic Pentameter Day". Yes? No? (Just kidding.)

Norm de Ploom said...

Speak in iambic pentameter? All I can do with it is spell both words. Love the idea of national promotion of poetry. It is a lost art and lost form of entertainment. How could Jane Austin have written her novels if it were not popular to sit under an English elm and read poems? A family favorite is Nancy Owens Barnes' book of poetry "Moose for Breakfast."


Nice writing & great information about April being National Poetry month,the U.S. Poet Laureate, and Idaho's 'Writer in Residence'