The 2011 National Poetry Month poster designed by Stephen Doyle.

The Academy of American Poets ( instituted National Poetry Month in 1996 to encourage the love of poetry among Americans. Each year a designer is asked to contribute a poster to the celebration and this year it was Stephen Doyle whose work is seen here. The quote “Bright objects hypnotize the mind” is from the poem “A Word with You” by Elizabeth Bishop. Go to the website to see what Doyle has to say about the poet and her work as it inspired his design…”illuminating.”

“Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands…”  may be the most “memorable” of Longfellow’s poems simply because of the numbers of schoolchildren made to memorize it. Was it your first poem?  Probably not.  After all, our nursery rhymes and prayers were poetry.                         

Now I lay me down to sleep,   

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.                                                                  


                                                                                      Mary, had a little Lamb,

                                                                                       Its fleece was white as snow.

                                                                                        Everywhere that Mary went,

                                                                                         The Lamb was sure to go.

 As we grew, the most dominant exposure to poetry probably shifted to the songs of our teen years, whenever that was.  Words of love, imagined, lost or savored, reflected the angst of our age and our emotional state. In thrall, we may have composed sonnets or dedicated words to our love, or poured out our misery when denied.  We use poetry in our commitment ceremonies, in remembrances, and in greeting cards. Poetry surrounds us in advertisements, music and, increasingly, on the printed and on-line page. The quality varies, as does the form, style and impact.

 Chapbooks are thriving, perhaps as never before. Workshops on form and arousing the muse are more frequent. Writers who may never have tried poetry find themselves delving into the process. Haiku, story-poems, sonnets, rhyming or non-rhyming forms, epics or free verse are finding their audiences in readings, newsletters, chapbooks and larger tomes

For me, poetry is becoming more and more important as an expression and examination of mood, feelings, incidents and the complexities of life.





Filed under Opinion, Poetry, Writing


  1. Penny

    Poetry teaches me new ways to look at the world. Reading poetry seduces me into falling in love with language all over again. Poetry pulls my heart up and out, squeezes it a little, and lets me hear its beating.

  2. I write poetry. I love reading poetry, but wish I read more of it. I think I have to be in a certain state of mind to enjoy it. It’s like being in the mood to solve a puzzle. To me poetry is like the puzzle of me. Why am I feeling this way? Love the poster and I’ll check out Elizabeth Bishop. Thanks for another interesting post.

  3. Hi Barbara,
    Your line, “To me poetry is like the puzzle of me,” is wonderful. I suspect that it is true of most poets at one line or time or another. I’m looking forward to reading your chapbook, UNDERTOW, soon.

  4. Poetry still baffles me. I do love to read it though! I’m just baffled about writing my own.

  5. HI Robin,
    You might let one of the characters in your fiction(Addy?) come up with a limerick, a non-rhyming 2-liner or a nonsense bit…being in her “skin” may help move you on to your own poetic stance.

  6. Thanks for the heads-up about National Poetry Month! I wrote a post about it and cartoonist Lynda Barry, with a link to a Poetry Foundation video where Barry sings Emily Dickenson’s poetry to both Gerschwinn and “The Girl from Ipanema”!

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