Poetry, Poetry, Poetry…

2018 National Poetry Month Poster

It’s that time of year again. April is National Poetry Month! National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world. This month was established by The Academy of American Poets to recognize the legacy and achievement of American poets, encourage the reading of poems, assist teachers in teaching poetry in their classrooms, increase attention about poetry, and encourage support and publication of poets and poetry.

If you are looking for more ways to celebrate this month, below are a list of ways to participate in National Poetry Month.

Ways to participate in National Poetry Month:

1. Partake in Poem in Your Pocket Day  (April 26th)

2. Sign up for Poem-A-Day

3. Write poetry

4. Start a poetry reading group

5. Write a poem on the bus

6. Attend Poetry Events! You can find a list of upcoming events here.

In celebratory spirit of this month, I thought I would write a blog post as an introduction to poetry.

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Whether it be amidst having to endure hearing a monotone rendition of a Shakespeare sonnet in your high school English class, within the cardstock pages of a Hallmark card, or amongst the poetic lyrics of Katie Perry’s Roar!, poetry is everywhere!

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Despite this though, it seems that over time poetry has evolved into something that is intimidating (or something merely for young “hipsters”).

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To me, poetry is more like blood & guts on paper than anything to be intimidated about. This being said, we all have blood and guts right? So why can’t we all enjoy poetry?

I remember when I was a wee youngin’ and first began exploring the pandemoniacal world of poetry.  I remember the process of trying to find a book of poetry to read to be very overwhelming. There were so many books! So many authors! So many emotions! I didn’t know where to begin.

It didn’t help that poetry books (unlike other books) are usually blurb-less. Darn little snippet quotes from Stephenie Meyer acclaiming literature, you are never there when I need you most!

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Poetry simply (and un-simply)  just is what it is. You can’t summarize it. In this way, a book of poetry is similar to a music album. There is no other way of knowing whether or not you actually like a book of poetry or a music album until you actually listen to or read it.

Here are some tips that will hopefully ease your anxiety when first getting into poetry, and get you on your way to being a poet genius. I can’t promise following these tips will transform you into a swoon-worthy poet prodigy, but they will hopefully at least help you navigate the vast, expansive, overwhelmingness that is poetry.

Step One: Peruse

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Give yourself some time to explore the shelves of any poetry section at your local bookstore or public library. I would recommend flipping through a variety of poetry books, and seeing what grabs your attention.

Usually bookstores carry a limited selection of poetry, but that is okay because guess what? The public library has a plethora of poetry books! At least, the UW libraries do (not to brag or anything ;)).

In the local area I have found these stores to carry a great selection of poetry:

Elliot Bay Bookstore

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Located in the heart of ye’ local too-cool-for-school Capitol Hill, rests the ever-lovely Elliot Bay Bookstore. This bookstore carries a great amount of poetry, and also has a coffee shop within it (so ten points for Gryffindor).

Website:
http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

Hours:

Monday – Thursday:
10am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday:
10am – 11pm
Sunday:
10am – 9pm

Address:

1521 Tenth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98122

Third Place Books

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Third Place offers a good variety of poetry books that are both new and used. It’s a great bookstore to go to for studying, reading, or chilling. It is also next to a lovely bakery.

Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 9AM-9PM
Friday and Saturday: 9AM-9PM
Sunday: 9Am-8PM

 

 

Open Books

This bookstore is very cute, and guess what? It filled entirely with poetry books!

 

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This bookstore is very cute, and guess what? It filled entirely with poetry books!

Hours:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm
Sunday: 12-4pm

Address:

2414 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103

Powell’s Books

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This photo of Powell’s City of Books is courtesy of TripAdvisor

In general Powell’s is the Queen of bookstores. In addition to carrying a ginormous amount of books, they also carry a massive amount of poetry!

Website: http://www.powells.com/

Hours:

9am – 11pm daily

Address:

1005 W Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97209

After reading this If you are thinking something along the line of: “yeah great tips Emily, telling me to “explore” really did not help me navigate the vast abyss of poetry…”

Then I lead you to a list of poetry books I would recommend reading that are good if you are staring to explore poetry.

Milk & Honey / Rupi Kaur

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If you are looking for a short, simple, and aesthetically-pleasing poems that packs a punch, this book is for you!

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude / Ross Gay

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This is a refreshingly delightful poetry collection. The poems inside this book are filled with spectrums of colors.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings / Maya Angelou

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While technically a memoir,  it is a wonderful introduction to poetry nonetheless. And of course it is written Maya Angelou, need I say more?

*If you haven’t heard of who the amazing Maya Angelou is, you can find out more about her here.

Step Two:  Listen

Okay so you went to the bookstore, and still didn’t find anything that grabbed your attention. Well guess what? You can try listening to poetry!  You can listen while grocery shopping, going on a walk, or while sipping chamomile tea and staring at the moon (if you’re romantic like that).

 

 

Step Three: Watch!

Ultimately though, I believe the best way to explore poetry is to watch performances of it. You can do this by attending local poetry readings where you can watch awesome poets read poetry inches in front of your face. In terms of watching poetry online, you will want to check out the lovely YouTube channel Button Poetry (link to a performance below).

 

Here is a List of Upcoming Poetry Events in the Seattle Area:

Youth Speaks Seattle:

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Next event: Youth Speaks Grand Slam, April 21th, 7-10PM, The Neptune

Whether young, old, or any age in-between, come see these many marvelous young poets!

Youth speaks performs at a variety of events throughout the year. They also meet for a writing and open mic circle the first Sunday of every month.

You can find more info about Youth Speaks and their events here:  https://www.facebook.com/youthspeaks206/

 

Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series:

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If you’re interested in hearing from published poets themselves, than the poetry series at Seattle Arts & Lectures is a must see!

Next Event: Of an Impossible Country, April 27th 7:30PM

For more info on these events visit:

https://www.lectures.org/season/poetry_series.php

Everett Poetry Night

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Photo Credit: Everett Herald

Come one, come all to Café Zippy. Every Thursday night you will find a variety show featuring open mics, musical guests, and featured poets.

Address: Café Zippy 2811 Wetmore Ave, Everett, WA 98201

Time: Thursday nights from 7:00-10:00 PM

For more information visit: https://everettpoetrynite.wordpress.com/about/

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Well, it looks like you have made it to the end of the article. I hope these tips will help you navigate through the wondrous, mystical, wonderland that is poetry.

Happy Celebrating!

~Emily

P.S: If you missed last year’s post about National Poetry Month, you can read it here.

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