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April 14, 2017

Celebrating April National Poetry Month

Since April is National Poetry Month, Crane took the time to interview someone who knows poetry very well and we are offering 4 Annual Subscriptions to Poetry Magazine!

We interviewed Elizabeth Burke-Dain, Director of Marketing and Media, Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois. Poetryfoundation.org. for this blog.

What is National Poetry Month?

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets, located in New York City, in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

What do you do for the Poetry Foundation?

I am the director of marketing and media. My job is to fulfill the mission of the Foundation which is to create a more vigorous presence for poetry in the culture.  Poetryfoundation.org is the largest website for poetry in the world. There you can find thousands of poems, essays, articles, teacher's resource guides, podcasts, educational programs, information about our over 100 free readings and performances, and much more. It would be hard to list everything we do. It's a very impressive site for anyone looking to learn about the world of contemporary and classic poetry.

Is here something you look for when you're reading poetry?  What is it that makes you want to read poetry?

I just heard Daniel Handler (author of Lemony Snicket  A Series of Unfortunate Events) being interviewed and he had a great answer. He said: "Reading poetry is more like being in an art museum. When you understand that you can just walk by things that are not speaking to you, when you understand that your visceral response to a poem is as true a response an an educated one, that is the best way to approach poems. If something doesn't interest you, it doesn't mean you're missing something or not "getting it"."

There are a lot of poems out there and not all of them are going to interest you. I think Daniel's approach can pave the way towards reading poetry. He also went on to say that for people who are looking to read poetry as a starting point, he recommends Poetry magazine. The subscription is very inexpensive at $35/year for 11 book- length issues.

And speaking of investigating all forms of poetry, check out the websitepoetryfoundation.org. There are poems and essays about love, divorce, footballgetting your hair done, not getting your hair done, tips on how to murder somebody, getting drunk, sobering upliving with cancer, and on and on. For every human experience there is a poem.

The Poetry Foundation Facebook page has been featuring one of our poem samplers per day for National Poetry Month. The first of the month featured our cat poem sampler, but there are samplers that range in subject from work to peace to blockbuster movies.

What are some of your favorite poets?

Some of my current favorite poets right now are:

Kaveh Akbar who wrote an amazing book called "Portrait of the Alcoholic Floating in Space with Severed Umbilicus" (Sibling Rivalry Press, January 2017). So, you can guess what the poems are about...

Safiya Sinclair who wrote one of my fave poems of the year called "Center of the World". Safiya is from Montego Bay, Jamaica and her poems are a must read.

Also Franny Choi. She is so so good. Here is Franny is conversation with Saeed Jones, executive producer of books and culture for Buzzfeed in an episode of the podcast Poetry off the Shelf called "Social Media, Race, and Disney Princesses". She wrote a poem a couple of years ago that went viral called "To the Man Who Shouted 'I Like Pork-fried Rice' to Me on the Street".

So, I strongly suggest, that if you don't read poetry, give it a chance. The Poetry Foundation is located at 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois. For more information about our over 100 free events, readings, performances, and other happenings, go to poetryfoundation.org/events. It is one of the most elegant places in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Hedrich Blessing