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Oh Tennessee: Let’s Celebrate Poetry

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By Danielle Brown, Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator –

npm_posterTennessee has a rich cultural landscape, one that is often largely attributed to music. However, the literary arts, and poetry in particular, are important to Tennessee too and not just because of the connections to songwriting. Sonia Levitin, novelist and artist, says, “Like music, poetry connects us one to the other as it blends and harmonizes our inner and outer selves.” Poetry has a lasting impression on the individual through reading, writing, articulation, and comprehension. Understanding ourselves allows us to have a better understanding of the world and the people who live in it. Poetry makes this possible.

With April marking National Poetry Month, let’s explore ten ways to celebrate poetry.

  1. Create visual poetry out of your favorite poem. Visual poetry is when you arrange and design words on the page to showcase the meaning, content, and/or subject of a poem.
  2. Share poetry with others. Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 27th! Carry a poem with you to share with your community and on Twitter using #pocketpoem.
  3. Perform your work at one of the many poetry slams happening all over middle Tennessee in bookstores and coffee shops. If watching is more your style, then you can participate as an audience member.
  4. Check out poetry books from Tennessee local libraries. While you’re at it, research the state poem, “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee” by William Porter Lawrence.
  5. Visit an art museum, listen to a piece of music, or watch a dance performance. Then, write a poem about the art that you experience. This is an activity that is suitable for all ages. If working with our youngest Tennesseans, you can have students describe what they see with descriptive words and use a simple couplet format. (Couplets have two lines that rhyme.)
  6. Enjoy the Poetry Foundation’s poem of the day at poetryfoundation.org. The website is also a great resource to find a seasonal poem or information on children’s poetry. Download the app for poetry at your fingertips.
  7. Start each day of the month with a little creativity by taking the 30/30 poem prompt challenge.
  8. Share a poem or stanza in your neighborhood with some sidewalk chalk. Don’t forget to give credit to the poet.
  9. Check out universities for poetry readings by local and visiting poets, often scheduled as part of literary series and festivals. While you’re at it, buy the poets’ books too!
  10. Join the Tennessee Arts Commission in cheering on the 2017 Poetry Out Loud Tennessee Finalist, Marquavious Moore from Memphis, at the National Recitation Contest in Washington, D.C. Visit poetryoutloud.org on April 25-26th for live viewing of the competition.
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