National Poetry Month was started in 1996 by The Academy of American Poets, and is a month-long, national celebration of poetry! Their goal, then and now, is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide artistic range and concern.
There are so many hidden poets out there, including, Phoenix Suns co-owner Richard Jaffe, who recently published his first book of poetry. Jaffe offers five ways we can all benefit by tapping into our inner poet:
1. Improves cognitive function. Learning new words (he’s never without a Thesaurus), working out meter (math!), and finding new ways to articulate our thoughts and feelings (communication) are all good for the brain. Want to get smarter? Write poetry!
2. Helps heal emotional pain. Grief is one of the most painful emotions we experience, and it’s also the source of some of the world’s most inspirational poetry, Jaffe says. “When I have experienced a profound loss, the act of putting my feelings into words or memorializing and paying tribute to those who I lost is extremely cathartic,” he says.
3. Leads us to greater self-awareness. Most of us don’t have the time or desire to just sit and aimlessly ponder the meaning of our lives or what makes us deeply happy. Writing poetry gives us a constructive way to do that. Not only does it help us explore and gain insight, we have something to show for all that “inner reflection” when we’re done.
4. Provides a gift of inspiration or education to others. One thing we know -- we are not alone! “Universal questions, fears and emotions are called ‘universal’ because everyone, no matter what country or culture they’re raised in, experiences them,” Jaffe notes. Once we’ve done the work of exploring and finding our own answers, we can help others by sharing them.
5. Celebrate! For some things, balloons and cake just don’t suffice. “Proposing to my wife, the births of my children, their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, falling in love -- these were among the most emotionally powerful, joyful times of my life,” Jaffe says. “Thanks to the poems I wrote at the time to capture those feelings, I can experience them again and again.
To do our part to encourage all of the would-be poets out there to celebrate National Poetry Month, we have created the first annual K12 Poetry Contest!