Top of page

During National Poetry Month, Bring Poetry to Life with Library of Congress Resources

Share this post:

John Russel Reading a Poem
John Russell, of Montcoal, reading a poem entitled “Keeper of the Forest” at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia. Lynthia Eiler, 1996

April showers may bring May flowers but they also bring opportunities to explore poetry. April is National Poetry Month and here are some ideas to help you bring poetry primary sources into the classroom.

You may be interested in listening to the Living Nations, Living Words webinar that took place on March 24th.  The webinar provided an opportunity to learn more about the resource featuring the work of Native American poets which was created by current Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Also include were presentations from teachers who have incorporated poems and other materials from this resource in their classrooms. A recording of the webinar will be available shortly. The link will be available on our webinars page. While on the webinar page you can register for future poetry related programming.

Did you know that the Library of Congress has recordings of poets reading their own poetry? This blog post features the newest additions to the Archive of Recorded Poetry, a treasure trove of poetry you can share with your students. The Library also has the PALABRA Archive, featuring recordings of prominent writers from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and other regions with Luso-Hispanic heritage populations reading from their works at the Library of Congress. This blog post features a teacher discussing how she incorporated the recordings from the PALABRA archives in her class activities.

The Teacher’s Corner feature of From the Catbird Seat is filled with ideas on how to bring poetry in the classroom. Former Library of Congress Teacher in Residence Rebecca Newland provides teaching suggestions and links to Library of Congress sources. She has also teamed up with Library of Congress Poetry Specialist Peter Armenti to present webinars for teachers. You can find recordings from these webinars on our webinars page.

Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, but many have preceded her in that role. Your students can learn more about many of the poets laureate from these guides. In addition, the Poetry and Literature Center has a page on the Poets Laureate and provides information on the projects developed by several recent laureates to encourage more people to read poetry. For example, the project developed by former Poet Laureate Billy Collins is Poetry 180. Poetry 180 encourages schools to start each day with a poetry reading and provides a list of poems as well as information on how to read a poem out loud.

Image of Amanda Gorman reading one of her poems
National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reads her work, “An American Lyric,” at the inaugural reading of Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, September 13, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.

And to encourage your students to read poems out loud, you may want to share videos of other young people reciting poetry. In this video, several students who have participated in poetry slams talk about their experiences and recite some of their poems. Students can watch former Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s inaugural reading at the Library here.

Let us know in the comments how you incorporate some of the ideas listed, or add your own suggestions for ways to bring Library of Congress poetry resources into classrooms.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.