April is officially National Poetry Month, and to celebrate we are holding a system-wide teen poetry contest! The lucky winner will receive a gift card, along with other honors such as having your poem published in our annual poetry book. For more information, visit this link: http://www.sccl.org/teens/poetry-contest
Even if you're not a teen, or not interested in entering the contest, you can still honor the month by reading one of the great poetry books available in our libraries. As a long-time fan of both reading and writing poetry, I would consider the following titles as some of my personal favorites.
Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America--and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman. Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.
Allen Ginsberg's Howl & Other Poems was originally published by City Lights Books in the fall of 1956. Subsequently seized by U.S. Customs and the San Francisco police, it was the subject of a long court trial at which a series of poets and professors persuaded the court that the book was not obscene.
The complete text and stage directions to Shange's 1976 Broadway production is the moving statement of a talented black woman artist who sings the song of her own experience in a way that all can relate to it.
Note: This is what's known as a "choreopoem," and has since been adapted into a feature film.
Paint Me Like I Am is a collection of poems by teens who have taken part in writing programs run by a national nonprofit organization called WritersCorps. To read the words of these young people is to hear the diverse voices of teenagers everywhere.
Included are a foreward by acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni, an essay from Kevin Powell, another poet associated with WritersCorps, and writing tips from WritersCorps instructors.
Maya Angelou, the bestselling author of On the Pulse of Morning, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, and other lavishly praised works, is considered one of America's finest poets. Here, four of her most highly acclaimed poems are assembled in a beautiful gift edition that provides a feast for the eyes as well as the heart.