Another 21 Days/21 Poems for (US) National Poetry Month

From a past year’s post :  ‘It’s that time of year again. Poetry is celebrated every April in the United States. The National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry. It is one of my favorite monthly celebrations.’

The theme for April 2012 is  ‘the poetry of the African and Diasporan Experience’.

The fun doesn’t end there.  I’ve come up with a list of sub-themes to choose from:

A poem by a North African
A poem by an East African

A poem by a Central African
A poem by a West African
A poem by a Southern African
A poem a European  of African descent
A poem by an Americas poet of African descent
A poem by a Caribbean poet
A poem about a child or a young person
A poem about Slavery or the Middle Passage
A poem about love
A poem about Coups/Dictatorship/Bad Leadership
An Anthem poem, an Elegy, or Praise Song
A poem about Colonialism/Neo-colonialism
A poem about the Immigrant/Migrant experience
A poem about the Tropics
A poem about domestic life
An old favorite
A poem by woman or a poem about women
A poem about a city or town
A poem about personal or national Independence
A poem I just read and loved
A poem about rural or pastoral life

I will adhere to these sub-themes but they are broad and are open to wide interpretations, so I won’t feel oppressed by my own plan.

If you care to join, the guidelines are:

  1. While I will post all 21 poems (perhaps more), you don’t have to.
  2. One poem per day with a short paragraph about why it was picket.
  3. All poems must be written by poets of African descent
  4. My selection will include translated poems

However, feel free to adhere to some, all or none of these guidelines.  The point of April is to celebrate poetry any which way. Please do link to this post if you plan on participating in 21 Days/21 Poems.

This year’s celebrations draws inspiration from the 2011 21 Days/21 Poems celebrations.

Each year, the American Academy of Poets unveils a poster and outlines their celebratory theme.  This year, the Academy encourages young people to read any poem by its current or some former Chancellors and then write a letter to the poet about the poem.  The corresponding poster is:  npm2013_poster_540

Below is a poem by Arthur Sze, a current Chancellor of the Academy.  This poem is utterly fantastic.  Life lived, not only on the edge, but on the edge of a leaf.  I hope your leaf is green and moist with the morning dew. Enjoy!

The Shape of Leaves

Ginkgo, cottonwood, pin oak, sweet gum, tulip tree:
our emotions resemble leaves and alive
to their shapes we are nourished.

Have you felt the expanse and contours of grief
along the edges of a big Norway maple?
Have you winced at the orange flare

searing the curves of a curling dogwood?
I have seen from the air logged islands,
each with a network of branching gravel roads,

and felt a moment of pure anger, aspen gold.
I have seen sandhill cranes moving in an open field,
a single white whooping crane in the flock.

And I have traveled along the contours
of leaves that have no name. Here
where the air is wet and the light is cool,

I feel what others are thinking and do not speak,
I know pleasure in the veins of a sugar maple,
I am living at the edge of a new leaf.

– By Arthur Sze

Source: and reprinted with Permission from The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 by Arthur Sze.

Sze is new to me, have you read any of his poetry?  Do you plan on celebrating US National Poetry Month? If yes, please share your plans.



  1. Wonderful poem. I plan on writing a daily haiku as my contribution to the National Poetry month. The haiku is based on the daily prompts from Haiku Heights


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