National Poetry Month Resources
National Poetry Month
Celebrate the impact of poets and their work!PLAN YOUR VISIT
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.
- 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.
- Take your class on a National Poetry Month field trip of the AWM with a focus on poets and their work.
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.
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!
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.
Former U.S. Poet Laureates on AWM Author Talks
We’ve had the honor of hosting three former U.S. Poet Laureates—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. Plus, you can see current U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo live in person at the inaugural American Writers Festival on May 15, learn more here.
Over on our YouTube channel we’ve put together a National Poetry Month playlist for your viewing pleasure.
- Watch Indigenous poets Layli Long Soldier, Mark Turcotte, and Tanaya Winder read from and discuss their contributions to the poetry anthology When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through.
- Poets Ross Gay and Eve L. Ewing share laughs, smiles, and deep insights when discussing Gay’s book The Book of Delights.
- Combining song, hip-hop, spoken word poetry and more, watch Frank Waln and Tanaya Winder perform their work at the AWM.
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.
- Go through this list of 5 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry for ideas, prompts, and resources to get your creative energy flowing.
- Adapted from our American Voices exhibit, read about the life and legacy of Langston Hughes, a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance.
- Get a crash course on the Beat Poets of the 50s and 60s like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac and more.