3 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Don't Be Nice. Director: Max Powers. 2017. Movie.

Screenshot from Don’t Be Nice, a film by Max Powers

In 1999, UNESCO adopted March 21 as World Poetry Day to “honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media” around the world. Today marks its 19th year.

In Canada, we’re fortunate to also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. This profoundly takes place during a time when social media dialogue and the issues of today are reviving an interest in poetry with a new generation. Poetry’s popularity is evidenced by the rise of Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey and The Sun and Her Flowers, among other poets, on Canadian and international bestseller lists. Also, responding to the demand for poetry, the League of Canadian Poets has released longlists for its Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and Raymond Souster Award, for the first time ever.

We’ve established our top three ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, and invite you to join us.

1. Immerse Yourself in the League of Canadian Poets Longlist

Many poets who have read at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors appear on this year’s lists, including:

Gerald Lampert Memorial Award

Pat Lowther Memorial Award

Raymond Souster Award

Congratulations to everyone on the longlist!

Two people read from a phone and laugh

Screenshot from Don’t Be Nice, a film by Max Powers.

2. Explore 20 New Poets, Live, in One Sitting 

As you’ve guessed, the programmers behind Toronto’s International Festival of Authors are BIG fans of poetry. On March 28, we’ll celebrate 10 years of The Battle of the Bards, where 20 poets will compete for the chance to win an invitation to read at the 39th edition of the Festival, AND advertising for their book in NOW Magazine. Tickets to the event are now on sale. Treat this event as your warm up into National Poetry Month.

3. Transport Yourself Through Film to the U.S. National Slam Poetry Competition

We’ll proud to co-present April screenings of the film Don’t Be Nice as part of the 25th anniversary of Hot Docs: Canada’s International Documentary Film Festival (April 26-May 6). The film follows the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team as they prepare for the U.S. national championships.

As you can see, we’re celebrating the craft of poetry this spring and the conversations inspired by it. The question is: Will you join us?