April is known to bring many notable events — the official start of spring, those famous April showers and oftentimes Easter. However, something people might not realize is that April is also National Poetry Month. Originally introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month has allowed April to serve as a way to appreciate and cherish poetry by both writers and readers alike.
Senior English major Emma Williams said she has always loved to write. Williams said that for her, poetry is a means of expression and highlighted a quote from one of her favorite poets, Mary Oliver: “It’s through poetry she found the world.”
“I think it’s really through poetry that, not only do I find myself, but I find God and spirituality,” Williams said. “And I also find the world and am able to dive deeper into what it means to be fully human and what it means to be expressive and to create.”
Williams also said she believes poetry is about processing and becoming and allows her to be more aware and in-tune with her desires and wants, as well as the beauty around her.
“It allows me to appreciate the world and the people in it,” Williams said.
Sophomore Hannah Faulkner said she enjoys writing both creative fiction and poetry in her free time. Recently, Faulkner won third place in the 2020 Jeanie Dolan Carter Memorial Collegiate Poetry Contest, hosted by the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. The contest was open to all college students from Arkansas.
“Poetry is a great way for me to get the words out of my head that wouldn’t otherwise be easy to express,” Faulkner said. “There’s something going on in my head constantly. Sometimes I’m anxious and stressed, or sometimes life is just so full and beautiful I just need to write about it, and poetry is a good way to put those abstract concepts into a form that other people will understand.”
Assistant professor of English Paulette Bane helps run Harding’s poetry club, “Souvenirs.” Bane said there is no one way to write poetry, but rather it is a process each person figures out for themselves. She said while there are different forms and styles, each takes the author’s own voice.
“Reading and writing poetry is a process of discovery as you either cope or make sense or just appreciate what it means to be alive,” Bane said.
To those who might think that they cannot write poetry, Bane said, “Well how do you know? You should try.”
She also said that just because we celebrate National Poetry Month in April does not mean we cannot celebrate poetry the rest of the year. However, April may just be the perfect time for people to try their own hand at writing and appreciating poetry.
“You need to widen your idea of what poetry is if you think you can’t do it,” Bane said. “It’s really something anyone can do and something everyone should do, and it’s just a different form of thinking.”
For some suggestions on how to get involved, check out the page “30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month” on poets.org.