Put these poets on your radar

April is National Poetry Month. Now, don’t think this is one of those fake holidays like “Walk On Your Wild Side Day” (April 12) or “Jelly Bean Day” (April 22). The Academy of American Poets started National Poetry Month in 1996, and it’s “the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture,” according to the academy.


At Ivy Tech, we celebrate with the Ink Cloud Poetry Contest (learn more and submit online). I also asked our librarians and English teachers to suggest poets. We weren’t looking for their favorite poets, per se, but suggestions of poets that students should be reading, even if poetry isn’t exactly their thing.

Here’s who they shared:

“My favorite poet is Joy Harjo because her poems are so exquisitely attuned to her surroundings. They show that poetry is necessary to life. There is great variety in her work, yet she maintains her own clear voice. Her poems have wonderful rhythms and are great to read aloud because she is also a jazz musician and plays Native American flute. One of my favorites is Eagle Poem.”

~Ann Morrison Spinney, librarian

“I think students should be reading Helen Frost (who lives in Fort Wayne). She was part of the Big Read Campaign a few years ago for her novel-in-verse, ‘Keesha’s House.'”

~Paula Ashe, assistant professor, English

“Sometimes I’m in the mood for something silly, and I turn to children’s poets like Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. Some of their poems are nonsense while others make perfect sense, and they’re all great for a silly read either by yourself or with a group of kids. I still remember the first Shel Silverstein poem I memorized way back in second grade:

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