April: National Poetry Month – guest blog entry with Amy Ash

Dr. Amy Ash is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing in ISU’s Department of English

She has contributed this Library blog entry especially in celebration of National Poetry Month!

Scroll down for information on the Thursday, April 8 Theodore Dreiser Visiting Writers Series appearance of internationally-acclaimed poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil.

At the inauguration of President Biden this January, Amanda Gorman reminded our nation of our love for poetry. Her inaugural poem was so powerful, so perfect for the moment. Afterward, social media exploded with the beauty, the energy of her poem and her performance.

As a poet, I’ve always known the magic, the power a poem can offer. As a teacher, I love to introduce students to the world of contemporary poetry that is very much alive and thriving. This is an exciting time—the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which has grown to become an annual celebration of poetry in schools, in libraries, in statehouses, throughout our streets, and on television and radio programs nationwide.

Jennifer Benka, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, reminds us that “poetry has a vital role to play as a counterweight to the struggles we’ve all endured this past year.” I couldn’t agree more. In the darkness and distance of this pandemic, we are continually reminded how essential poetry is in creating community and crafting new possibilities for our world. Though not surprised, exactly, I was still stunned (and so very thankful) by how the poetry community has answered the call for community, as the internet flourished with countless online reading and events throughout the pandemic.

Here at ISU, we are so thankful to be able to continue the Theodore Dreiser Visiting Writers Series this year, offering the experience in a virtual format, which has allowed for unexpected connections and opportunities. The Theodore Dreiser Visiting Writers Series is made possible by grant funding from the Indiana Arts Commission and our regional affiliate, Arts Illiana. We appreciate their continued commitment to and support of the literary arts.

Many thanks also to the Indiana State University College of Arts and Sciences, the Distance Education Program, and the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies for their generous support of this series, which offers invaluable community engagement and experiential learning opportunities.

Help us celebrate National Poetry Month this Thursday, April 8th at 6pm by logging in to see internationally-acclaimed poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil, whose work is infused with discovery, wonder, and joy.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of a book of nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishmentswhich was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year, and four award-winning poetry collections, most recently, Oceanic (2018). Awards for her writing include fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Council, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her writing has appeared in NYTimes Magazine, ESPN, and Best American Poetry. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.