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June 2023
Vol. 22, No. 9

All the Bells and Whistles

Calling All Troubadours! It’s National Poetry Month!

by Scott PaulsonApril 2023

Embrace your love for poetry! You are all troubadours!

Troubadours share poetic stories through song. Most are in the position to accompany themselves musically.

The original troubadours were chiefly poets, but the poems they wrote were most certainly presented as songs—lyrical recitations with simple unison underscoring or without accompaniment at all. This was good High Medieval living (11th through 13th centuries) and could involve travel from the South of France through the North of Italy, to Spain and beyond.

Are you intelligent, witty, quick-thinking, and musical? Do you enjoy excitement and travel? Become a troubadour! Poetry skills are the heaviest requirement. A good voice and additional instrumental skills are a plus! You’ll be a welcome visitor in all cities, towns, and villages that interest you…but your poetry skills must be top-notch. An amazing troubadour is not simply a singer, not merely a minstrel, nor just bordering on balladeer. A true troubadour is primarily a poet (yes, who writes verse to music…but the verse is your highest gift to share!)

My unsolicited advice to readers this month is: concentrate on poetry. Complete your trek to becoming a true troubadour!

April is National Poetry Month: Celebrate all month long and get some welcome poetic training from the Academy of American Poets, who founded National Poetry Month. Lots of advice for current troubadours—directly from the Academy of American Poets—is shown here. Complete your journey as a true troubadour by putting poetry first! This very month of April is the right time to devote extra training and study in poetry.

What is National Poetry Month? 
National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers: students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and, of course, poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives.

Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month is a special occasion that celebrates poets’ integral role in our culture.

Thanks in part to the National Poetry Month partners and sponsors, each April the Academy is able to offer activities, initiatives, and resources so that anyone can join the celebration:

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all 50 United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Poem in Your Pocket Day takes place every year on a day in  . Poem in Your Pocket Day 2023 will take place on April 27.

Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #PocketPoem.
  • Print a poem from the Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space, or use the instructions on pages 57–58 of the PDF to make an origami swan.
  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use.
  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.
  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.
  • Add a poem to your email footer.
  • Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space.

Discover more ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in the classroom, or at home or online!

Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), the Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month in 1996. Along the way the organization enlisted a variety of government agencies and officials, educational leaders, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations to help.

Why was April chosen for National Poetry Month?
In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, the Academy of American Poets chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry, in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.

What are the goals of National Poetry Month?
The goals of National Poetry Month are to:

  • highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
  • encourage the reading of poems
  • assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms
  • increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
  • encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
  • encourage support for poets and poetry.

Shouldn’t we celebrate poetry all year round, not just in April?
By all means, yes! The Academy of American Poets encourages the year-round, lifelong reading of poetry. National Poetry Month is just one of the many programs of the Academy of American Poets. To keep the celebration going, consider becoming a member, which entitles you to special benefits throughout the year. You can also sign up for Poem-a-Day to receive free daily poems by email all year long.

How does the Academy of American Poets celebrate National Poetry Month?
We celebrate National Poetry Month with a variety of programs in April.

What can I do to celebrate NPM?
There are thousands of ways to celebrate. The Academy of American Poets has developed a list of 30 to get you started—one for every day in April.

How can teachers become more involved?
In addition to participating in the Dear Poet project with students, teachers can find free poetry lesson plans and curriculum units on Poets.org. The Academy of American Poets also provides a National Poetry Month tip sheet for teachers, including ideas and success stories from past years. If you’re a teacher with a success story you’d like to share, email us, and we may post your story on Poets.org. Teachers can also sign up for our monthly Educator Newsletter and our weekly Teach This Poem newsletter.

How can libraries become more involved?
The Academy of American Poets provides a National Poetry Month tip sheet for librarians, including ideas for book displays, programs and discussions, collection development, outreach, and marketing, as well as success stories from past years. If you’re a librarian with a success story you’d like to share, email us and we may post your story on Poets.org.

How can I obtain a copy of the National Poetry Month poster?
To request your free copy of the poster, use the online order form.

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A reminder to my fellow Troubadours. Here are your roots:

TROUBADOUR: a medieval lyric poet, sometimes of knightly rank, composing and singing, originally in Provençal in the 11th to 13th centuries, especially on the theme of courtly love. Troubadours were primarily poets but presented their work as verses in song.

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