By Jennifer Sadler
Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Communities across the nation will hold readings, competitions, book displays, educational events and other activities in honor of what has become the largest literary celebration in the world. The goals of National Poetry Month are to expose individuals, families and students to the art of poetry and to bring attention to the great works of poets long gone, established and emerging today—and to introduce Americans to the pleasures of reading and writing poetry. Another goal of the celebration is to encourage schools to incorporate poetry into educational programs year-round. National Poetry Month is made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The United States Library of Congress appoints an official poet, called the Poet Laureate, every one to two years. The current Poet Laureate is two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, William Stanley Merwin. Many of our Poet Laureates have created new ways to celebrate National Poetry Month.
For example, Poet Laureate Ted Kooser (from 2004-2006) had ideas about expanding the reach of poetry when in 2005 he launched American Life in Poetry. Kooser has family in the news business, so his poetry project was connected to the media. Kooser remembered when there was a time when poetry was a usual feature in newspapers and people would cut out poems they liked and save them. To bring back this idea, he started a weekly poetry column provided to newspapers and online media for free using poems by current poets— most of them short and not complex. The hope for the project is to help Americans see that poetry can be accessible and relatable to them.
In April of 1998, our nation’s 39th Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky launched the Favorite Poem Project. Like many poets, Pinsky believes that poetry is a vocal art and meant to be read aloud. According to the program’s Web site, Pinskey has said that reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem “is like the difference between staring at sheet music or actually humming or playing the music on an instrument."
The reader of a poem for Pinskey's project need not be the author or a skilled performer.
Ohio celebrates this concept of poetry appreciation with Poetry Out Loud Ohio, presented by the Ohio Arts Council as part of a national recitation contest but with a highly competitive approach for high school students.
By Brooke Chavdar
From ragtime and blues to big band and bebop, jazz has been a part of the fabric of American history for more than 100 years. The famed musical tradition has its roots in the southern United States, specifically the city of New Orleans, where African American musicians merged the rhythmic and melodic musical styles of the black community with the European compositional styles brought to the city by its diverse immigrant community.
Jazz has grown tremendously since then, producing multiple subgenres and large followings in major cities such as Chicago and New York. To honor the long-standing history of one of America’s oldest and most celebrated musical genres, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NAMH) designated April as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) in 2002. This year’s celebration, which marks the 10-year-anniversary of JAM, “examines the legacies of jazz women and their advocates who helped transform race, gender and social relations in the U.S. to build a more just and equitable nation.”
Columbus’ vibrant and active jazz scene will be bustling with activity over the course of the next several weeks, with activities to celebrate, promote and educate the local community.
BalletMet Presents 7 Deadly Sins
What’s your favorite sin? Wrath, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and sloth are on the menu with sinfully delicious choreography by six renowned guest artists performed by BalletMet Columbus and new compositions and arrangements performed by musicians of Shadowbox Live. If you think ballet and rock and roll can’t harmonize, think again. Don’t miss this world premiere rock and roll ballet!
Columbus Children's Theatre Presents Cinderella
The timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella was the most widely viewed program in the history of TV. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true.
Jazz Arts Group presents Birth of the Cool
As jazz’s bebop movement flourished during the late 1940s with its fast-paced rhythms from virtuosos like trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker, trumpeter Miles Davis headed off in a new direction. Taking cues from the innovations learned in Parker’s group, Davis recorded 12 songs in a two-year span that became known as Birth of the Cool.