Ten Ways to Support a Poet During National Poetry Month

Inspired by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, a writer tries her hand at poetry for the first time.

Poets are map makers, and their words are a complex compass rose. That’s because they’re wise enough to know that wanderers (and wonderers) need more than four directions. Each line is a measured invitation to compose our very own legend.

“This is the distance I’ve traveled,” they tell us. “Draw your own conclusions. Design your own scale.”

Each April, we’re invited to celebrate our passion for poetry. 

It’s a good time to support those who create it, too.

Here’s what I plan to do. How about you?

  1. Elevate local poets. Discover who they are and how you might amplify their work. I’ve admired Amy Ludwig Vanderwater for ages, and this year, I was thrilled to meet Solomon Dixon as well.
  2. Buy their books and services through their preferred outlets. For instanceI know many artists who distribute their work through local bookstores, studios, and art houses because they care about contributing to the success of local business owners. Make your purchases there, if you’re able.
  3. Use their stuff. Situate it inside of your own lessons, presentations, and professional learning programs, and speak about the poet when you do. Humanize them, and let listeners know how they might connect with them as well.
  4. Review their work. Spend a few minutes locating their work online and leaving a thoughtful review. Your words will attract new readers and improve sales.
  5. Show up for them. Poets give generously of their time and talent by designing gorgeous websites where they share their work for free, making school visits, offering book signings, and leading Twitter chats and webinars. Drop by. Engage. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  6. Keep their poetry in your pocket. Pick your favorite. Keep it on hand. Then, look for opportunities to share it with others.
  7. Use their poems as teaching tools. Use them to inspire your own writing. Show young writers how to do the same.
  8.  Share their words when it matters most. Several years ago, when someone I loved very much passed away, a friend sent me several poems that were previously unknown to me. They cut to the very core of that very painful situation. They made me feel less alone. They made me feel understood. One of the best ways to support a poet is to share their just-right words at just the right time.
  9. Use your own unique talents to interpret their work. Are you an artist? A musician? Do you know how to bake? The poets I know are incredibly inspired by those who translate their words using other mediums and modalities. Investing your time and talent this way is a gorgeous expression of your appreciation for a poet.
  10. Send a note of thanks. And write it by hand.

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