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International Poetry Month – Find the joy in words

Happy International Poetry Month! The event was inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. It is 30 days of celebration of all things poetry. Something that a lot of poets choose to do throughout the month is a writing task called ‘A Poem a Day’ – it can be of any length, of any type and about any topic choice, maybe for the last part of April, you could give it a try!

What is Poetry?

Poetry is a type of literary work that conveys a thought, describes a scene or tells a story in a concentrated, lyrical arrangement of words. Poems can be structured, with rhyming lines and meter, the rhythm and emphasis of a line based on syllabic beats. Poems can also be freeform, which follows no formal structure.

Poetry has been around for thousands of years and the basic building block of a poem is a verse known as a stanza. A stanza is a grouping of lines related to the same thought or topic, similar to a paragraph in prose.

Some common types of poems are:

  • Haiku – A form of Japanese poetry, that is only three lines! Lines one and three use only five syllables whereas line two uses seven. It doesn’t have to rhyme but it usually invokes a certain feeling or a place in time.
  • Post It – This has become very popular recently – write a note for someone and leave it in random places for them to find. Whether it be encouraging or something to give them a smile, I’m sure they will appreciate it!
  • Concrete – Often called Visual Poetry, Concrete Poetry uses the words on the page to convey an image, that is often more important than the words themselves.

Now, the above examples are all poetry, but they can’t get further away from each other in technique. This shows just how diverse poetry is. There is something for everyone to enjoy, you just have to find what works or resonates with you!

What can Poetry do for you?

Poetry can be many things, it can be an escape for your thoughts and feelings to get them out and onto the page. It can be a voice, for when you feel like you can’t say something out loud. Or maybe it can even be your friend.

The Poetry Exchange – is a podcast that talks to people about a poem that has been a friend to them. They have also done workshops for the University for poetry modules within certain degrees. These workshops were very enlightening, insightful and moving. Can you think of a poem that has been a friend to you? Maybe you can find out if it has also been a friend to someone else, it could even be someone famous. Have a look through their many episodes, it may help you to find other friends in different places!

Inspirational people making a difference

Lately there have been quite a few poets or people making a big difference through their work or just by being who they are. Some of which are:

  • Amanda Gorman – The youngest poet to be named Poet Laureate and the youngest poet to read her poetry at the American Inauguration. Amanda has wowed the world with her inspirational words.
  • Simon Armitage – Our English Poet Laureate – Simon brings experiences in adolescence to life and his work can be seen all over school curriculums.
  • Jackie Kay – Did you know that Jackie Kay – The Makar – National Poet for Scotland is our Chancellor for the University of Salford? She has given many lectures and overseen exciting projects in order to help students progress and to inspire them to achieve what they can.

Resources we can offer you

Here at the University we have many resources that could help you with your assignments, writing in general or just if you want to find out more:

Many of these can be found from Library Search – depending on what medium you like to use the most!

Not all who wander are lost

Poetry has the power to do many spectacular things, it all depends on who wields the pen! Could you create something great? Whether it be big or small, a poem can have immense impact, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. So, come on. Pick up that pen. Open up that Word document. Create. Wander. I promise, you won’t get lost. Instead, maybe you’ll find something worth continuing. Happy International Poetry Month! Why not try writing a haiku in the comments!

I think poetry can help people strengthen their relationship with themselves. Through this they widen their relationships with other people and then ultimately, with the world.

Scott Thurston – Reader of English and Creative Writing – University of Salford
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