April is National Poetry Month, and it’s rhyme time in Seattle. The sponsoring Academy of American Poets suggests 30 Ways to Celebrate the month. And whether you’re in to writing or reading or listening to poetry, there’s lots going on locally to help you do just that.
The Seattle Public Library sponsors many poetry events in April. The North East Branch has a month-long poetry contest, with submissions of an original poem by children, teens, and adults taken from April 1-30, and a gala poetry awards ceremony and open mike on May 20. At the ceremony, someone will walk away with the coveted Wedgie Award trophy, and everyone can grab fortune cookies with custom poetry fortunes. The Green Lake Branch is hosting three events by Poets West: a public forum on April 5, a prose sharing open mike on April 12, and a poetry sharing open mike on April 19. They intend to continue this series at Green Lake on the first three Saturdays of the month from May to September after that. The Southwest Branch is hosting a poetry read-around on April 12. This is a low key event where people can read their favorite poem, either their own or someone else’s. The Fremont Branch hosted in March a very successful poetry reading by award-winning poets from the Washington Poets Association, that will be repeated in September. There is a poetry writing workshop for adults at the University Branch on April 26, and workshops for teens at the Wallingford Branch on April 5, the West Seattle Branch on April 16 and the University Branch on April 19. Seattle Poet Populist, Cody Walker, will give a poetry reading at the Central Library on April 20. Also at the Central Library every Tuesday in April at noon, a poetry appreciation group meets to read and discuss poems.
Elsewhere around town, Seattle Arts & Lectures is doing their annual poetry series, with Lucille Clifton on April 7, and Edward Hirsch on April 21. You might want to check out How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Hirsch before you go. Richard Hugo House is throwing a Cheap Wine and Poetry event on April 24. The Seattle Poetry Slam holds their Grand Slam to pick a team to go on to the national poetry slam contest on April 27. The University Book Store has a series of events: a celebration of the poetry of the late local poet William Dunlop on April 16, a reading by local poets from Letters to the World, a compilation of poems from the Women’s Poetry Listserv, on April 17, and a Dead Poets Memorial Reading open mike for poetry lovers on April 24. And our local poetry book store, Open Books, sponsors a series of poets reading from their new books in April.
Of course, Seattle is a great poetry town all year long, ever since the days of Theodore Roethke at the University of Washington. You can find many local venues sponsoring regular poetry readings through the Websites of PoetsWest and the Washington Poets Association.
If you’re a poet and you know it, look for these books at the library – for children, Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher, and for adults, The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser and Poetry for Dummies by John Timpane. And poetry readers can look for Northwest serial publications, such as the Crab Creek Review, Poetry Northwest and Pontoon.