Off the Shelf: National Poetry Month

Posted April 20, 2022

By Matthew York
Adult Services Librarian with the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library

National Poetry Month is an annual observance each April, founded by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, a registered trademark of its founding organization.

Everyone is invited to participate in National Poetry Month, whether in or around libraries, schools, colleges, publishing houses, organizations for the arts, literary festivals, and more.

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library is observing National Poetry Month this April with previews of five recent poetry books that are available from our catalog, as follows:

The Park (2020), by John Freeman

From Copper Canyon Press: “In The Park, his second book of poetry, John Freeman uses a park as a petri dish, turning a deep gaze on all that pass through it. In language both precise and restrained, Freeman explores the inherent contradictions that arise from a place whose purpose is derived purely from what we bring to it––a park is both natural and constructed, exclusionary and open, unfeeling and burdened with sentimentality.

Pulling from both history and his own meditations in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, the seasons pass through famous parks, personal parks, parks beneath parks, and other spaces with fabricated outer limits. […] Interspersed with meditations on love, beauty, and connection, The Park is a pacific and unflinching mirror cast upon a space defined by its transience.”


Red Stilts (2020), by Ted Kooser

From Copper Canyon Press: “Red Stilts finds [poet] Ted Kooser at the top of his imaginative and storytelling powers. Here are the richly metaphorical, imagistically masterful, clear and accessible poems for which he has become widely known. Kooser writes for an audience of everyday readers and believes poets ‘need to write poetry that doesn’t make people feel stupid.’

Each poem in Red Stilts strives to reveal the complex beauties of the ordinary, of the world that’s right under our noses. Right under Kooser’s nose is rural America, most specifically the Great Plains, with its isolated villages, struggling economy, hard-working people and multiple beauties that surpass everything wrecked, wrong, or in error.”


Owed (2020), by Joshua Bennett

From the September 28, 2020, issue of The New Yorker: “Themes of praise and debt pervade this rhapsodic, rigorous poetry collection, which pays homage to everyday Black experience in the U.S. Poems like ‘The Book of Mycah’ and ‘Owed to the Plastic on Your Grandmother’s Couch’ exalt childhood memories, but also bear witness to oppression and loss.

Bennett’s devotionals are demands, too: ‘The Next Black National Anthem’ and ‘America Will Be,’ along with a series called ‘Reparation,’ riff on the idea of compensation for historical and ongoing harm. Bennett conjures a spirit of kinship that, illuminated by redolent imagery, borders on mythic.”


Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic (2020), edited by Alice Quinn

From Alfred A. Knopf: “As the novel coronavirus and its devastating effects began to spread in the United States and around the world, Alice Quinn reached out to poets across the country to see if, and what, they were writing under quarantine. Moved and galvanized by the response, [Quinn] began collecting the poems arriving in her inbox, assembling this various, intimate, and intricate portrait of our suddenly altered reality. […]

From fierce and resilient to wistful, darkly humorous, and emblematically reverent about the earth and the vulnerability of human beings in frightening times, the poems in this collection find the words to describe what can feel unspeakably difficult and strange, providing wisdom, companionship, and depths of feeling that enliven our spirits.”


Dearly: New Poems (2020), by Margaret Atwood

From Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers: “In Dearly, [her] first collection of poetry in over a decade, [Margaret] Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and—zombies. [… Atwood] casts her unique imagination and unyielding, observant eye over the landscape of a life carefully and intuitively lived.

While many are familiar with Margaret Atwood’s fiction—including her groundbreaking and bestselling novels The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, Oryx and Crake, among others—she has, from the beginning of her career, been one of our most significant contemporary poets. […] This collection is a stunning achievement that will be appreciated by fans of her novels and poetry readers alike.”


Want to read more?

Use the library’s Novelist Plus online research resource and type in a keyword. It will offer up a list of similar books about your topic.