A guest post by Marnie Goodbody, a Research Services librarian.
"Poetry isn’t an escape or even a luxury, I’d argue it’s a necessity, a means of living more deeply with reality.” (Tracy K. Smith, former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner)
April is National Poetry Month, and although we can’t go to a poetry reading or slam, we can still read the poems we crave at home—poems and descriptive language that can help us make sense of what’s going on and who we want to become. From haikus to sonnets, and pieces all the way from Beowulf to Harjo, we’ve found some great sources to get you going.
Celebrate the power of poetry and language with these resources.
There is so much great content about poetry and literature at the Library of Congress that you can happily get lost in their selection. Their primary Poetry and Literature page is the main portal to poetry and literature at the library, and you will find listings of special programs, events (whenever they can start again), conversations with poets and other writers, links to the Poet Laureate and the winner of the Library of Congress Prize for American Literature, and more. Also featured is the amazing Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, which contains almost two thousand recordings.
The Poetry Foundation is another remarkably rich source for information about poets and poetry, and ideas to help children, teens, and adults integrate art into their lives through reading, writing, listening, and learning about poetry.
The oldest poetry society in the country, Poetry Society’s Listen section features sound recordings of poetry, discussions, and tributes. Make sure to see the new segment, “Reading in the Dark,” where poets write about the poems and other poets they turn to for comfort and perspective in difficult times.
Another plentiful resource of poetry for all ages, Poets.org includes a deep collection of poetry for children and teens, and materials for teachers. The site, which is created by the Academy of American Poets , has information on poets, selected lists of poems by theme, and resources for sharing poetry. Also note the timely features Covid-19 Resources for Poets and Poetry Organizations and Shelter in Poems—poems submitted by readers that offer solace, and Best Practices for Virtual Events and Readings.
A local organization that fosters new work and new voices in performance poetry, Boston Poetry Slam promotes poetry to the widest and most diverse audience possible through open mic, featuring poets, and poetry slams. Other poetry slams areas are listed on the site.
Founded in 2008, Mass Poetry supports poets and poetry in Massachusetts and sponsors the annual Mass Poetry Festival and many other exciting poetry events, including some for students. The website has a good archive of relevant articles, and lists of resources for writers and readers, including a list of poetry magazines accepting submissions, Massachusetts bookstores with good poetry inventories, and links to many poetry blogs.
Established in 1996, the William Blake Archive is dedicated to providing high quality, open access to researchers of all of William Blake’s poems, prints, and paintings. The site is a collaborative effort by scholars, and is a model of its kind.
Listen to poetry written for and selected to inspire children, read out loud by the poet and by others. The site also has help for teachers to integrate poetry into their lessons in the Teaching Space.
Poetry Every Day
You can sign up to get poetry in your email inbox every day:
Poetry at the Library
Take a look at these lists of poetry eBooks and eAudiobooks, and search the catalog for more digital items that you can access now, while the library buildings are closed. Be sure to limit your search to digitized items only (eBooks or downloadable audiobooks).
Many more poetry resources are available through the Library’s databases and online resources, including full-text contemporary poetry magazines and journals through PressReader. Other periodicals noted for poetry, such as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Harpers, Ploughshares, and more are available through our online resources such as RBDigital, Gale General Onefile, and Gale Academic OneFile, and others.
If you want to combine going outdoors with literature, try the self-guided Boston Literacy District Walking Tour or the Ladies Walk in the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. Just don’t get carried away and forget social distancing!