National Poetry Month

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. 

National Poetry Month

The Solace of Poetry

April 01, 2022

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., and almost every year I write a blog post to promote it. Why? Because since my teens, reading poetry has brought both happiness and solace—a simple pleasure I like to share here on Catching Happiness. 

And also I need the reminder to include more poetry in my reading life. I usually read one or two books of poetry each year, and I still subscribe to a weekly email from American Life in Poetry (see link below), but National Poetry Month reminds me to read more.

For the poetry curious

If you’re curious about poetry, or would like to get back to reading it, here are a few easy ways to get started:

Sign up for Poem-a-Day here

If a poem a day is too much, subscribe to American Life in Poetry’s once-a-week poem newsletter. 

Listen to the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Off the Shelf podcast.

Enjoy some Spring Poems—classic and contemporary poems to celebrate the advent of spring. 

Author and blogger Modern Mrs. Darcy (Anne Bogel) has written several posts on poetry, including this one. You might also enjoy hearing her discussion of poetry with her friend and poet Dave Harrity on Episode 75 of What Should I Read Next?

Check my post “It’s National Poetry Month—No Foolin’” for links to apps and other poetry resources.

And for anyone whose interest in the art and culture of Ukraine has been piqued, here are two poets whose work I’ve recently come across: Ilya Kaminsky (That Map of Bone and Opened Valves) and Serhiy Zhadan (read two of his poems here).

If you’re a poetry lover, what are your favorite ways to experience poetry?

Lisel Mueller

Simple Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April 30, 2021

Reading poetry is a simple pleasure that I don’t indulge in as often as I’d like. Even though I enjoy it, it sometimes feels too “hard.” I know a lot of people feel that way, or they think poetry is boring or confusing. And it certainly can be. But it can also be funny, sweet, thought provoking, and powerful. Witness the furor caused by Amanda Gorman’s poem from this year’s presidential inauguration. 

April is National Poetry Month and in honor of that, I’m sharing a poem below, and a few links to other resources related to National Poetry Month or poetry in general. If you have any favorite poems or poets, please do share in the comments below!  

30 Ways to Celebrate the 25th Annual National Poetry Month at Home or Online


It’s National Poetry Month—No Foolin’

Finding Solace in Poetry

American Life in Poetry has a new editor and a new look, and I still think it’s one of the best ways to get a taste of modern poetry.


Knopf Doubleday offers a free poem-a-day service during the month of April (click here to sign up for next year) and occasional news about the poets they publish.

Today’s poem, with an introduction by Ted Kooser:

It’s not at all unusu­al for a poet who’s been impressed by some­one else’s poem to think, ​“I wish I’d writ­ten THAT!” I’ve nev­er read a poem by the late Lisel Mueller — and I’ve read near­ly all of them — when I didn’t feel just that way. Mueller died at age 96 this past Feb­ru­ary [2020]. Here’s the poem that stands as an epi­graph to her Pulitzer Prize win­ning book, Alive Togeth­er: New and Select­ed Poems, pub­lished by Louisiana State Uni­ver­si­ty Press.


In Passing

How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1996 by Lisel Mueller, “In Passing,” from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems, (Louisiana State University Press, 1996). Poem reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press. Introduction copyright © 2021 by The Poetry Foundation.



Jonathan Greene

Finding Solace in Poetry

April 10, 2020

Lost in the frenzy of coping with the Covid-19 situation is the fact that April is National Poetry Month in the United States. Several times on Catching Happiness, I’ve posted about incorporating poetry into one’s life in simple, non-intimidating ways. (See “It’s National Poetry Month—No Foolin’” or “10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month.”)

In fact, now seems like an excellent time to return to reading poetry. I find it calming and soothing—and slowing down is necessary in order to fully appreciate the layers of meaning in many poems. In particular, I’ve been meaning to revisit some of Robert Frost’s poetry after visiting one of his homes in September of 2019.

In the meantime, here’s a poem, courtesy of, to remind us that even in the face of  “interesting times,” some rituals remain.

Introduction by Ted Kooser: That sage curse, “May you live in interesting times,” has been upon us for the past few years, but here a Kentucky poet, Jonathan Greene, offers us some reassurance that there is order in the world. Greene has a special talent for, and love of, short poems, and this is a good example of his work. This poem is from his most recent book, Afloat, published by Broadstone Books.

The Return

We are heartened
when each year
the barn swallows

They find their old nests,
teach their young to fly,
lining up on the barn roof
for their first flight.

They remind us,
for now, some rituals
of this good earth

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Jonathan Greene, “The Return,” from Afloat, (Broadstone Books, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Jonathan Greene and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month—No Foolin’

April 01, 2019

Since my romantic youth, I’ve had an interest in poetry. My fantastic creative writing teacher, Marie Tollstrup, taught us to read and write poetry, and a love for the form has stayed with me. I’m not truly “educated” about poetry—but I know what I like! April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to rekindle my love affair with poetry?

Many people are intimidated by poetry, think they don’t like it, or don’t understand it. But if you enjoy listening to music with words, you enjoy poetry! At least one form of it.

If you’d like to explore poetry, here are a few simple ways you might enjoy dipping into this art form:

I’ve been enjoying The Slowdown podcast, by Tracy K. Smith, the current U.S. Poet Laureate. During each short (six minutes or less!) episode, Smith “delivers a different way to see the world—through poetry.” Listen while you drink your morning coffee or tea. Smith’s voice is lovely and soothing, and I love how she weaves together everyday life experiences and poems.

I’m going to check out from my library at least one of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets editions. Aren’t they beautiful? 

This is a good explanation of haiku, with examples. (I love haiku!)  

Poetry apps are also a good and quick way to get a bite-sized taste of poetry. You can read, write, or listen to poetry on your phone! See Book Riot’s list of poetry apps here. These were the most intriguing to me:

Poemhunter (Android and iOS) has a library of 1.4 million poems.

Wings—Poems & Poets for the Love of Poetry. Unfortunately for me, Wings doesn’t have an Android version, because it looks like fun. You can read poetry, read about poetry, combine your own photos with poems, etc. 

For Haiku lovers, check out THF Haiku, The Haiku Foundation’s portable library of haiku. 

Hear poetry read by great actors by downloading The Poetry Hour (iOS).

Read previous Catching Happiness posts on National Poetry Month:

I’m sorry to say I’ve gotten away from reading poetry on a regular basis, so I appreciate the reminder of National Poetry Month. I know I have an unread book or two of poetry somewhere on my shelves, and, of course, the library beckons. Reading (and sometimes writing) poetry brings me pleasure, and I encourage you to give it a try if it’s something you’d like to explore. During the month of April, I’ll share a few poems on Fridays, too.

If you enjoy poetry, please share the name of your favorite poem or poet in the comments below!

P.S. If you enjoyed the Action for Happiness Mindful March calendar, click here for Active April

National Poetry Month

Painless Poetry

April 03, 2017

Does reading poetry seem hard or boring? Do you think you’d like to read poetry, but for some reason just can’t seem to make it a regular practice? April is National Poetry Month here in the U.S. and regular readers of Catching Happiness know that I like poetry and to force encourage others to read it, too, I  post a poem on the blog every couple of weeks. Every year during National Poetry Month, I also try to share simple ways for us to explore poetry in a painless fashion. (You can see some past poetry posts—say that five times fast—here, here, and here.)  

Reading poetry can be a simple pleasure, not an ordeal, or something that’s “good for you,” like eating broccoli. Consider these painless ways to add a little poetry to your life:

Downloading a poetry app, like Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, Poems by Shakespeare (Android), or Poems by Heart by Penguin Classics (iOs).

Or watch one of these movies with a poetry connection. (One lovely film with a poetry connection that was left off this list is Il Postino.

Watch  people reading their favorite poems by clicking here. 

Why not read a poem about happiness

And, of course, come back here Wednesday when I’ll have a new poem posted for you!

I encourage you to give poetry a try this month—and come back here and share your discoveries with us.


10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April 01, 2016

Regular readers of Catching Happiness know I post a poem here approximately every other Wednesday. I share this simple pleasure in an effort to show that poetry doesn’t have to be the broccoli of the literary world. It can be beautiful, simple, thought-provoking, funny, entertaining—and it doesn’t have to make your stomach (or your brain) hurt.

April 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, so if you’re at all  interested, it’s an ideal time to discover the flavor of different types of poetry. You don’t have to attend a poetry slam or immerse yourself in obscure verse to do so, either. Here are 10 (mostly) simple ways to expand your taste for poetry. Bon appetit!

Combine National Poetry Month with the trend of coloring for adults by downloading a free poetry coloring book.

Who says poetry has to be serious? Enjoy some funny poems, such as the collection I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats.

If you’re in a book club, suggest choosing a book of poetry—or even a single poem—as focus for a meeting. Or check out this free guide to starting your own “poetry café.”

Sign up for Poem-A-Day, or for a weekly poem via email from American Life in Poetry. (This last is where I get the poems I highlight here.)

Participate in National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 21, 2016. (You can download a poem for your pocket here, too.) 

Buy a book of poetry, or check one out from the library. Two collections I’ve enjoyed recently: She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s JourneyThrough Poems, and Good Poems for Hard Times. I also love many of Mary Oliver’s poems.

Watch a TED talk of a poet reading his or her work. 

Click here to visit Name Poem Generator, type in your name (or someone else’s), and the site will generate an acrostic poem. 

If you write poetry, join NaPoWriMo and write a poem a day, or check out some of the sites participating. (I’ve participated in several 30-day challenges, but I’m not sure I’m up for writing a poem a day!)

Please share with us any poetic discoveries you make this month!

National Poetry Month

Veiled Beauty

April 10, 2013

“A poet dares to be just so clear and no clearer…He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it.”
E.B. White

Remember, April is National Poetry Month. Click here for ways to celebrate. My library has ordered a copy of The Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition, and I plan to put in a request for it when it comes in. Another edition I plan to check out is Good Poems for Hard Times, chosen by Garrison Keillor.

In what way will you let poetry into your life this April?

National Poetry Month

Why Read Poetry?

April 09, 2012

I like poetry—or at least I do when I take the time to read it. Every year I vow I’ll read more, and I make one or two purchases in hopeful expectation of doing so. I keep a small stack of poetry books by my bed, thinking that a poem or two taken at bedtime will be just the ticket. (Usually, however, I doze off while reading the latest novel I’ve checked out from the library and never get to that poem reading. Maybe I should do it first thing in the morning?)

Newest poetry purchases
I’ve decided that’s OK, though. I’m not going to make reading poetry into another “should.” And you *shouldn’t* either! Even David Orr, New York Times poetry critic and author of the book Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry (a book I want to read) told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, “I don’t know that people ought to bother. I think that poetry is one of those choices you make in life that’s…it’s not really susceptible to reasoning or arguments…. I think a better way to approach the question ‘why bother’ [to read poetry] is not to answer it—but rather just to say that if you do bother, it can be worthwhile.” 

So I’m not going to try to convince you to read poetry—but in honor of National Poetry Month, I am going to share with you a few ways you can make poetry part of your life, if you want to.

I continue to love American Life in Poetry with their weekly emailed poems (I post one here every other week), but you can also get a poem-a-day from 

To capture the poems (or parts of poems) you like, start a “commonplace book.” You can also add quotes and sayings that are meaningful to you, and end up with a beautiful and inspiring volume.

Start an online poem notebook here

Listen to poems read by their authors here or look for Poetry Speaks, a combination book and cd package, at your library or at a bookstore (or online). I found it thrilling to hear the voices of T.S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay and e.e. cummings reading their own work. 

Do you have a favorite poet or favorite poem? One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s A Line-Storm Song. I just love the lines: “Come over the hills and far with me,/ And be my love in the rain.” 

“The true test of poetry is sincerity and vitality. It is not rhyme, or metre, or subject. It is nothing in the world
but the soul of man as it really is.”
—Amy Lowell

National Poetry Month

Winter Sun

February 01, 2012

It seems to me that most poems are set in spring or summer, and I was pleased to discover this one by Molly Fisk, a Californian, set in cold midwinter. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

Winter Sun

How valuable it is in these short days,
threading through empty maple branches,
the lacy-needled sugar pines.

Its glint off sheets of ice tells the story
of Death’s brightness, her bitter cold.

We can make do with so little, just the hint
of warmth, the slanted light.

The way we stand there, soaking in it,
mittened fingers reaching.

And how carefully we gather what we can
to offer later, in darkness, one body to another.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation ( of Poetry magazine.  It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.  Poem copyright ©2010 by Molly Fisk from her most recent book of poetry, “The More Difficult Beauty,” Hip Pocket Press, 2010.  Reprinted by permission of Molly Fisk and the publisher.  Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation.  The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

NOTE: Poetry magazine, published by the Poetry Foundation, will give away an unlimited number of free copies of the April 2012 issue to book clubs and reading groups that submit their request by March 23. This is in honor of National Poetry Month and the magazine's centennial. Click here to request your reading group's free copy.

National Poetry Month

April Is National Poetry Month

April 06, 2011

April is National Poetry Month, and if you have even the slightest interest in poetry, this is the perfect time to explore. Throughout the month, poetry lovers will be celebrating in all kinds of fun ways. Click here for 30 ways to join in.

To get you started, here is a poem from American Life in Poetry, introduction by Ted Kooser:

So often, reading a poem can in itself feel like a thing overheard. Here, Mary-Sherman Willis of Virginia describes the feeling of being stilled by conversation, in this case barely audible and nearly indecipherable.

The Laughter of Women

From over the wall I could hear the laughter of women
in a foreign tongue, in the sun-rinsed air of the city.
They sat (so I thought) perfumed in their hats and their silks,

in chairs on the grass amid flowers glowing and swaying.
One spoke and the others rang like bells, oh so witty,
like bells till the sound filled up the garden and lifted

like bubbles spilling over the bricks that enclosed them,
their happiness holding them, even if just for the moment.
Although I did not understand a word they were saying,

their sound surrounded me, fell on my shoulders and hair,
and burst on my cheeks like kisses, and continued to fall,
holding me there where I stood on the sidewalk listening.

As I could not move, I had to hear them grow silent,
and adjust myself to the clouds and the cooling air.
The mumble of thunder rumbled out of the wall
and the smacking of drops as the rain fell everywhere.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2007 by Mary-Sherman Willis. Reprinted from The Hudson Review, Vol. LX, no. 3, (Autumn 2007), by permission of Mary-Sherman Willis. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation.