April is National Poetry Month


Melissa Martin, Ph.D.



Many of us grew up reading rhyming picture books by Dr. Seuss, an American author and poet. And his children’s books are still popular today. The following poem from the story “Horton Hears a Who!” is a favorite:

Should I put this speck down?

Horton thought with alarm.

If I do, these small persons

may come to great harm.

I can’t put it down.

And I won’t! After all

a person’s a person.

No matter how small.

The Academy of American Poets founded National Poetry Month in April 1996 in order to encourage the reading of poems, to highlight American poets, to assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms, to encourage publication of poetry books, and to encourage support for poets and poetry. Follow the National Poetry Month celebrations on Twitter @POETSorg.

Poem-a-Day is a daily digital poetry series (free of charge) featuring more than 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s poets each year. The series highlights classic poems on weekends.

With the 2012 issuance of Twentieth-Century Poets, the U.S. Postal Service® honored 10 poets: Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and Wil­liam Carlos Williams.

Poetry in Ohio

Legislation creating the position of the Ohio’s official poet was passed in 2014. On Dec. 17, 2015, Gov. John Kasich named Amit Majmudar as the first poet laureate of Ohio. Majmudar, a Cleveland-area native, served a two-year appointment in the honorary position. He is the author of two novels and three poetry collections.

In 2018, Gov. Kasich named Dave Lucas of Cleveland Heights as Ohio’s poet laureate.His work, “Weather,” was awarded the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. His poems are anthologized in The Bedford Introduction to Literature and Best New Poets 2005.

Read about Ohio poets on Ohio Memory: Paul Laurence Dunbar, Helen Steiner Rice, John Hay, Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Jessie Brown Pounds and Coates Kinney, to name a few. www.ohiomemory.org.

In 1938, Tessa Sweazy Webb lobbied the Ohio General Assembly, and the State of Ohio declared the third Friday of October as Ohio Poetry Day. This was the first poetry day established by a state government in the United States. Now in its 80th year, Ohio Poetry Day is still going strong.

Since 1986, The Spring Literary Festival has featured distinguished writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. The three-day festival is held in April on the Ohio University main campus in Athens.

In 2018, Kari Gunter-Seymour was named poet laureate of Athens by the Athens Municipal Arts Commission (AMAC). She won two Pushcart Prizes for her poetry.

The Ohio Poetry Association (OPA) is an affiliate of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS).

I have dabbled in penning poems since childhood. As I write this column, I am trying to contain my poetry envy of the poets highlighted. However, I will share one of my poems with you:

Living Calendars

Seconds tic-tock away as

minutes slip into hours

and join hands with days

until weeks and months

rendezvous with years.

Years amalgamate into decades

and roll into centuries.

The squares on our calendars

pass slowly and pass quickly

depending upon moments

of pain or pleasure.

Main events are etched in

cribs, diplomas, vows,

silver bells, gold watches, eulogies.

Each person is a living calendar.

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Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.