5 ways to add a little more poetry to our lives

National Poetry Month 2014

We all need a little poetry in our lives. When I was younger, I wrote poetry. I enjoyed poems by Robert Frost and William Blake and Langston Hughes. In middle school and high school, I remember participating in the Language Arts Showcase at the Leeward Community College on Oahu, submitting poetry and attending workshops. After I started working, I didn’t have as much time for poetry. Or I didn’t make time for poetry.

April is National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets.  It’s a good time to remember how much we enjoy poetry, whether it’s musical ballads, humorous limericks, short haiku, or epic sonnets.

There is poetry for all ages in the songs we hear on the radio and iTunes, the jingles we hear on TV (like Kit-Kat’s catchy “Gimme a break” and Coke’s inspirational “I’d like to teach the world to sing”), and the books we read (from Mother Goose to Dr. Seuss).

Here are five ways we can add a little more poetry to our lives:

1. Read a poem a day. You can sign up to receive a free daily poem by email.

2. Put a poem in your pocket. The Academy of American Poets offers 30 ways to celebrate. Memorizing your favorite poem, carrying a poem in your pocket, and writing a poem in chalk on the sidewalk are just some of the ideas to make poetry a part of our lives.

3. Cheer for Hawaii poets. On the first Thursday of every month, HawaiiSlam hosts a slam poetry competition with poets from around the islands. It’s held at the Fresh Café Warehouse in Honolulu ($3 admission). On April 3 at 7:30 pm, there is a special HawaiiSlam Finals with a three-round elimination match ($15 fundraiser). Also on April 3 at 5:30 pm, the Manoa Public Library in Honolulu is hosting a Celebration of Words and Poetry. The 2-hour program features authors Gail N. Harada, Brenda Kwon, Wing Tek Lum, Christy Passion, Cathy Song, and Joseph Stanton (free, recommended for ages 12 and older). On April 10 at 7:30 pm, the UH Manoa Library hosts a HamSlam! session in the Hamilton Library Sunny Alcove (free).

4. Teens: go to a writing workshop. Every Wednesday, Youth Speaks Hawaii offers a free slam poetry writing workshop for teens at the ARTS @ Marks Garage in Honolulu (free ages 13-19). There’s even a 2nd SATurday monthly poetry slam and open mic.

5. Kids: get excited about poetry. Seussville.com offers a “Hats Off to Poetry” activity pack with rhyming worksheets and creative writing.

My 7-year old son wrote this haiku about summer:
The waves cheer with joy.
The birds fly in the blue sky.
The sky has no clouds.

What is your favorite poem and favorite poet? Is there a poem that you wish you had written?

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One Comment on “5 ways to add a little more poetry to our lives”

  1. There’s still time to celebrate poetry in Hawaii! On 4/19/14 at 2 pm, poet, author, and professor Eric Paul Shaffer will present contemporary poems in an hour-long program called “Big Words in Small Magazines” at the Hawaii State Library. For more information, call 808-586-3499.

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