April is National Poetry Month, an annual celebration of verse initiated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.
“The concept 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 aesthetic range and concern,” the Academy of American Poets says on its website. “We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.”
Indigenous Peoples, of course, were creating poetry long before the arrival of Europeans. These days, the voices of American Indians, Canadian aboriginals and other Indigenous Peoples are heard and read by millions around the world. Accordingly, this month Indian Country Today Media Network introduces readers to standouts from across Turtle Island and beyond. Among those whose work will be showcased in these pages and on ICTMN’s website are the Yaqui poet and artist Anita Endrezze; Sherwin Bitsui, Navajo; Simon J. Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo; and Duane Niatum, S’Klallam. In late March these and other poets explored the role of poetry in everything from daily life to politics in a unique poetry symposium in New York City.
Not surprisingly, these Native poets are winning attention and acclaim for their efforts. Natalie Diaz, whose 2012 collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) delves into family dynamics and her brother’s drug addiction, was profiled last year on the PBS NewsHour. Jim Barnes, Choctaw and Welsh, is Oklahoma’s poet laureate.
Today ICTMN kicks off National Poetry Month with poetry by Alex Jacobs. Stay tuned for more all month.