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Poetry: Welcome

This guide will help you find reliable information on poetry, in both print and electronic form.

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April is National Poetry Month!

The 2018 National Poetry Month poster, designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher, celebrates typography and is suggestive of concrete poetry and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. More than 100,000 free posters will be distributed to schools, libraries, and bookstores coast to coast to help promote the month-long celebration and to increase poetry awareness.  Visit the poster gallery for current and previous years. Copies of National Poetry Month posters from previous years are available for $5 each while supplies last.


Welcome to the Poetry Research Guide

"Poetry is writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhythm" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

This guide will help you find reliable information on poetry, in both print and online sources. Use the tabs at the top to navigate through the Poetry Research Guide.

What is a poet?

Source: Lyrical Ballads (1798-1800)

In Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth puts a question to himself:  What is a poet?  Then he replies:  "He is a man speaking to men; a man endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind".  Poetry humanizes mankind. "Poetry’s object is truth, not individual and local, but general and universal.  Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; the objects of the poet's thoughts are everywhere covering the vast empire of human society.  As a result, the reader of poetry must necessarily be in some degree enlightened, and his affections strengthened.  Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge - it is as immortal as the heart of man."

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Next Time Ask More Questions, Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Before jumping, remember
the span of time is long and gracious.

No one perches dangerously on any cliff
till you reply. Is there a pouch of rain

desperately thirsty people wait to drink from
when you say yes or no? I don’t think so.

Hold that thought. Hold everything.
When they say “crucial”—well, maybe for them?

Hold your horses and your minutes and
your Hong Kong dollar coins in your pocket,

you are not a corner or a critical turning page.
Wait. I’ll think about it.

This pressure you share is a misplaced hinge, a fantasy.
I am exactly where I wanted to be.

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