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Will Poetry Be Done Tomorrow?

Woman walking through a book, a way to think about poetry opening doors.I was recently talking about Kwame Alexander’s Newbery-winning book The Crossover with my eighth graders. My students were really into the story and loved the rhythm of the poems.

It was one of my favorite books of 2014, but I waited until April to share it because, as I casually mentioned to one of my classes, it’s Poetry Month. One of my more vocal students retorted, “So in May are we just going to stop talking about poetry?”

I initially laughed off his comment but he would not be dissuaded. He said, “No I’m serious. That’s a legit question.”

His insistence gave me pause.

Have I, in my enthusiasm for all things poetry during the month of April, inadvertently communicated to my students that this genre of writing only deserves attention one month of the year? When May first rolls around, do I pack up the Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Sarah Kay, and Emily Dickinson until next year?

Is this a side effect of other month-long celebrations as well? Black History Month? Women’s History Month?

So this year, Sarah Kay’s beautiful new collection of poetry, No Matter the Wreckage, is not going into hibernation in my classroom on April 30th. I invite you to join me in making an effort to keep poetry alive even though “Poetry Month” is over. On February 28th, let’s not be done exploring African American literature even though the calendar says March is about to begin. And when March ends, let’s not stop reflecting on the role of women in history.

These month-long observations are meant to raise awareness in corners of our literary realm that are too often overlooked, but it would be even better if we found a way to turn that month-long awareness into a curiosity and passion that spans 365 days of the year.