April is National Poetry Month

April has been National Poetry Month since 1996. The Academy of American Poets began this recognition to “highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.” Academy members hope that Poetry Month will introduce more people to the pleasures of reading and writing poetry. 
Here at the library I am fortunate to select literary material for our collection, which includes poetry. This is probably because of my English degrees earned long ago. One day in class the professor asked us how much poetry we read that wasn’t assigned-in other words, how much poetry did we read just for pleasure?  
As he suspected, most of us didn’t read much on our own. That seems a little sad since we were a class of graduate level English majors!
But I am happy to report that poetry seems to be faring quite well with library patrons. I have noticed that it is one of the most requested subjects in our literature section. 
People especially want to check out love poetry, which is wonderful when you think about it-I always imagine people proposing to their significant other with the help of one of our poetry books. In fact, we turn to poetry for a lot of the important events in our lives. Wedding speeches and toasts often require verse. We also use poetry in ceremonies such as graduations and dedications, as well as funerals and memorial services. Poetry can capture so much feeling in just a few words. 
A favorite poet of mine is Langston Hughes: 
Hold onto dreams
For if dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly…
–From “Dreams” by Langston Hughes
I hope National Poetry Month inspires you to read this wonderful literary form. The library has many volumes of poetry for you to enjoy. Visit your local branch or browse the online catalog at cadl.org. Don’t know where to start? Try these collections:
o The Best American Poetry 2010
o The 100 Best African American Poems
o Essential Pleasures : A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud
o Red Hot Salsa : Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States 
o The World’s Favorite Love Poems
For much more about poetry, visit poets.org.
The Capital Area District Library Reference Department is located at 401 S. Capitol Avenue in Lansing, MI. Contact them at 517-367-6346 or by e-mail at [email protected]
This column was in the March 13, 2011 – March 26, 2011 edition.