A Month For Celebrating Poetry

Apr 9, 2016 By Deepa Gopal
Deepa Gopal's picture

Poetry is an ancient art form, as unique to a region as its culture and people. It is how stories were handed down from generation to generation, and the oral history of people recorded.

Poems speak of love and sacrifice, of a people persecuted or a benevolent king. Poets have opened the conscience of the world to injustices of their times.

To preserve and promote this art, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization) has been celebrating March 21st as World Poetry Day. In the U.S, the month of April is celebrated as National Poetry Month. Read about the history of poetry from ancient times to the present day HERE.

To celebrate the month, we profile two women poets here. 

Emily Dickinson [1830-1886]

Born in Amherst, Massachusetts to a well-to-do, politically active family, Emily Dickinson had the best education possible. Her grandfather Samuel Dickinson had established Amherst Academy and Amherst College which still stand today. While studying at Mount Holyoke Seminary, Emily found herself unable to answer Christ's call and over time ceased attending church.

She questioned popular beliefs and rejected blind faith, and this attitude shaped her life and her works. Dickinson led a reclusive life, choosing to remain unmarried. However, experts believe her many romantic interests may have been the subjects of her poignant and deeply emotional poems, many of which were found after her death. Her work has and continues to inspire American writers and thinkers. 

Maya Angelou [1928-2014]

Born in Missouri and raised in Arkansas, Maya Angelou experienced first-hand what racial discrimination looked like. However, her deep and unshakeable faith in her African-American roots, family, and community led her to pursue a career in the arts. She lived in Egypt and Ghana, Africa where she met Malcolm X. She returned to the U.S to help him build the Organization of African-American unity. 

Maya Angelou has worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., served on presidential committees on women's rights, and has written and produced award-winning documentaries and movies. However, she will be best remembered for her soul-stirring poetry which was based on a deep understanding and reflection on her life's experiences. The video below is one of Maya's Angelou's poems recited by a three-year-old child.

Do you love poetry? If so, be sure to check out this month's contest HERE

Courtesy poets.org, mayaangelou.com