National Poetry Month ACTIVITIES

Poetry readings, activities, and things to do for National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month and we have a number of resources available to help you discover, celebrate, and honor the vast contributions of poets, both past and present. From poetry activities for students to poetry readings to poets discussing their craft, get into poetry this month at the AWM!

  • Explore virtual exhibits like Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity. The civil rights icon used poetry with other writing forms to fight for oppressed communities.
  • Watch past program videos with leading contemporary poets like Ross Gay, Natasha Trethewey, Juan Felipe Herrera and more.
  • Listen to informative podcasts about influential poets of the past like Maya Angelou and Margaret Walker or hear from current poets like Saeed Jones and Rigoberto González.
Photo of Lawrence Ferlinghetti with quote by him that reads, "What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry? The State of the world calls out for poetry to save it."

Explore Online Exhibits

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a poet, a lawyer, a priest, a freight hopper, Eleanor Roosevelt’s friend, arrested for refusing to comply with bus segregation laws, a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, a professor, and so much more. Their work has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the Civil Rights movement, and countless individual people. Get to know the life and work of Murray and see how they used poetry alongside other forms of writing to advocate for change.

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today

My America: Immigrant & Refugee Writers Today

Explore our temporary exhibit, available both online or in-person, to see how poetry has played a role in the lives of some of the featured writers as they navigate themes of home, community, language, and more. Chicago poet José Olivarez tells how he came to poetry first through rap music, then found the power of telling his own story. Poet Jenny Xie shares how being made to feel like an outsider impacted her writing for the better. Plus many more stories and truths from writers across genres!

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

American Voices exhibit logo

American Voices

In the online adaptation of our physical exhibit American Voices, you can delve into more than 400 years of American writing with plenty of poets featured throughout. Learn more about barrier-breakers like Phillis Wheatley, who at the age of 20 became the first published African-American author in 1773 for her poetry. Or brush up on the classics like Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and more. Understand how poets and poetry helped define themes like Identity, Edge, and Promise for an entire nation.

Classroom resources are available to download as well.

Former U.S. Poet Laureates on AWM Author Talks

We’ve had the honor of hosting four former U.S. Poet Laureates—Joy Harjo, Natasha Trethewey, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Billy Collins—for author programs and you can listen to these fascinating conversations on the AWM Author Talks podcast. Harjo provided the keynote address at the American Writers Festival in May 2022.

Photo of Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo
Poet Warrior

Natasha Trethewey
Memorial Drive

Photo of Juan Felipe Herrera and book cover of Every Day We Get More Illegal

Juan Felipe Herrera
Every Day We Get More Illegal

Billy Collins
Whale Day

Watch poet Mahogany L. Browne read her poem “In the Next” as part of our virtual Little Squirrels Storytime series.

Photo of W. S. Merwin with quote by him that reads, "You've got to stop what you're doing, what you're thinking, and what you're expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it takes."


Over on our YouTube channel we’ve put together a National Poetry Month playlist for your viewing pleasure.



Check out and subscribe to our podcasts if you are interested in hearing current poets discuss their work and the poets of the past who have inspired them.

  • Glory Edim and Nikki Giovanni, herself an accomplished poet, get together to chat about their friend and mentor Maya Angelou.
  • Louie Pérez, lead singer of Los Lobos, combines his lyrics, poetry, and art into a multi-faceted book, Good Morning, Aztlán.
  • Award-winning poet Saeed Jones shares how he brought a poetic sensibility to his incredible memoir How We Fight For Our Lives.



Hit the American Writers Museum blog for even more National Poetry Month content.