Returning to a Simple Pleasure: Celebrating Poetry During National Poetry Month

April 05, 2024

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When things go awry, as they did for me last year, it’s easy to let go of certain practices that bring you joy. I never stopped reading last year—in fact, I read more than usual during plane rides and hours spent alone at my mom’s house. But I did get away from reading poetry on a regular basis.

I always enjoy reading poetry when I do it, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. One of the beauties of poetry is that you can read just one poem and have something to think about. I mean, why don’t I have a book of poetry sitting where I can pick it up instead of picking up my phone to scroll mindlessly? How many funny cat videos does one woman need to watch?! Reading a poem does take a little more effort than scrolling on my phone, but arguably it’s a better use of my time.

One of the things I like best about reading poetry is that it forces me to slow down. Sure, I could skim over the words on the page, but if I want to get at the meaning of the poem, I have to slow my reading and think about the words. Slowing down has become a theme for 2024 for me, and I’m making an effort to live at a slower pace. Reading poetry on a regular basis sounds like a good way to practice slowing down. 

National Poetry Month to the rescue

Conveniently for me, April is National Poetry Month. There are plenty of resources for me, and anyone else, who wants to add a little poetry to their lives. I’m easing back into regularly reading poetry by starting with Knopf’s Poem-a-Day email. I’ve also recently enjoyed two short collections of poems, Maggie Smith’s Good Bones and Kate Baer’s I Hope This Finds You Well.  

If you’d like to join me in returning to the simple pleasure of poetry, here are a few ways to do so.

Celebrate National Poetry Month

30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

To find virtual and in-person poetry events and resources near you, enter your state or an event title in the search field here

Another poem-a-day option, featuring new work by today’s poets.

Want to try your hand at writing poetry? See for daily prompts in the month of April. 

American Life in Poetry discontinued its practice of sharing poems weekly with newspapers and subscribers at the end of 2022, but the poetry archive remains. Explore it here

Some of my previous posts about National Poetry Month can be found here, here, and here.

To get you started, here is poem from the American Life in Poetry archives (introduction by Kwame Dawes):

It seems clear enough that Quincy Troupe wants his poem, ​“Picking a Dandelion”, to achieve the coveted status of ​“timelessness” while being rooted in a historical moment. Here are Joe and Jill, two people with commonly available American names, enacting an ordinary gesture of affection. Yet this instructive love is heightened by the context: love, in other words, in a time of hate (borrowing from Gabriel Garcia Marquez) is the theme and the optimism lacing this poem.

Picking a Dandelion

walking along together

in the nation’s capital

Joe stopped, stooped, picked a flower—

a dandelion to be exact—

then he handed it to Jill—

who smiled in her white summer,

dress full of pretty flowers,

and someone snapped a picture

of this sweet, simple gesture,

it revealed something deeper,

profound, beautiful about

their love for each other here,

that taught all of us watching,

how to reach across time, space,

with a tender touch, a kiss

for one another here, now

in this moment of hatred

before time on earth runs out

Let me know in the comments below if you have any favorite poets or ways of enjoying poetry. 

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  1. Kathy I used to read a great deal more poetry when I was much younger. Sam Walter Foss who wrote the poem "The House by the side of the road" penned words that reminded both my husband and I of my parents and the home where I grew up. In fact Dick had an artist draw the house and write the prose as a gift to mom and dad so many years ago. I think my brother still has the work of art somewhere at the farm. Well take care friend and enjoy April and all the great poems that are out there waiting to be read. Hugs!

    1. What a lovely gift to give your parents. I'm sure they treasured it. I'm enjoying April and reading a poem a day so far! Hope you're having a great month.