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A Month Of Poetry

National Poetry Month, which organizers say is the largest literary celebration in the world, is observed throughout April. The Academy of American Poets inaugurated the month in 1996. Tens of millions of people participate, according to the academy, as schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers and poets offer readings, festivals and workshops.  

This year, the academy is asking young people to participate in its Dear Poet project by writing letters to suggested poets.  Poetry lovers can also participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day, April 30. The Academy urges people to select a poem, carry it with them and share it with others by reading it or distributing copies.

Twitter users can follow poetry events taking place nationwide at @POETSorg or tweet theirs using  #npm15 and #pocketpoem. invites you to celebrate with us by reading about important poets. Books suitable for National Poetry Month available on  at significant discounts include books from the “Conversations With” series published by the University of Mississippi Press. Each volume is a compilation of interviews with literary figures. Among poets in the series are Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks and Yusef Kounyakaa

Conversations with Nikki Giovanni, edited by Virginia C. Fowler, $22.50, (List price:  $25), University of Mississippi Press, ISBN: 9780878055876, pp. 264.

This collection includes 22 interviews spanning two decades with Giovanni, who emerged as one of the stars of the Black Arts Movement and remains a beloved and lauded poet. Over the years, she has evolved from being the fiery young woman who helped define and express the aims of a revolution into a wise elder who gives voice to emotions and thoughts others struggle to articulate.

She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Institute of Technology, in Blacksburg, Virginia, where she has taught since 1987. Now in her 70s, she continues to write and make public appearances. She published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, in 1968, and went on to publish more than 30 books for adults and children, most recently Bicycles: Love Poems in 2009, according to her website.

Conversations with Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Gloria Wade Gayles, $19.80 (List Price:  $22) University of Mississippi Press ISBN            9781578065752, pp. 192.

The Gwendolyn Brooks conversations reflect three decades of her life and offer glimpses of her thoughts on creating poetry and on the poet’s role in society. The collection includes interviews conducted by Studs Terkel, the legendary author and radio broadcaster, and by Haki Madhubuti, leading Black Arts Movement poet and founder of Third World Press.

Brooks, who died in 2000 at the age of 83, was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, in 1950. She also received many other honors but modestly described herself as “an ordinary human being who is impelled to write poetry.” In later years, she served as Poet Laureate of Illinois and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.


Conversations with: Yusef Komunyakaa, edited by Shirley A. James Hanshaw,

$45 (List Price: $50), University of Mississippi Press, ISBN: 9781604734218, pp. 224.

In this collection of interviews spanning two decades, Yusef Komunyakaa, one of the most prolific and acclaimed poets, describes the poetry he produces as “word painting” and as “music.” In his groundbreaking collaborations with artists of other genres, he also has joined poetry with visual art, music, dance, drama and voice.

Komunyakaa was the first African American male to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his collection, Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, in 1994. A professor at New York University, he has won many other honors and published several collections of his work. He was born in 1941 in Louisiana, where he grew up.


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