In the News: National Poetry Month & the Next Generation of Great American Poets

Katy Thompson, Children’s Education Associate

April is National Poetry Month, and this year we’re celebrating 25 years of promoting poets and their poems! Founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month seeks to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and literary history. Take Amanda Gorman: the youngest ever inaugural poet and first National Youth Poet Laureate who wowed at President Biden’s Inauguration in January. Her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, was written to provide a moment of unity in the previously fractious last few years as poems seek to remind us where we have come from while illuminating the hope of the future. Often labeled as the “difficult” writing genre, National Poetry Month works to encourage both the reading and writing of poems, provides resources for students and teachers, and raises awareness of practicing poets in local and national media (The Poet Laureate for Indiana is Matthew Graham!).

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is a regional and national competition for creative teens, aged 13-18, to enter their works of art and writing, including poetry. These writers take on a myriad of issues, from politics to the self, as a to work through and make sense of the world around them; as a result, their writing is emotional, humorous, and true.


In celebration, we recognize two of our region’s American Voices Nominees in this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Rylee Beltz and Elizabeth Newsom. Read, or listen to them read, their poems below:

Rylee Beltz, Grade 10, Pettisville Jr Senior High School, Pettisville, OH, Educator: Rebecca Dorosz

Sap-

Sapling:
The trees we watched grow alongside us in her backyard, outgrowing us after our third summer together.
Sappy:
My words as we lay in her bed, legs tangled in hushed giggles so her parents don’t hear.
Sapor:
The taste of salty sweat on her lips after a softball game in the Ohio sun when we kissed for the first time.
Sapodilla:
The tree with fruit we admired on vacation that holds no candle to the taste of her apple scented skin.
Sapphire:
The way her eyes looked in October as they reflected the neon lights in the old-fashioned milkshake parlor. 
Saphead:
The man in Toledo, who hurled the claim we were going to Hell.
Saprobes:
The fungi that will decay our intertwined comatose bodies. 
Sapphic:
Her and I.

Elizabeth Newsom
Age: 17, Grade 12, St Ursula Academy, Toledo, OH, Educator: Christine Rode

Meteor Shower- A Guide

first, you have to make the plan
someone texts in the groupchat 
m: there’s meteor shower tonight
who’s down to see it?
s: where?
e: in the sky
s: hilarious
m: idk we can go to the park
c: ok what time?
m: 11:30? it’s gonna be best at 2 a.m.
s: thought it was exam week
e: we don’t have them
s: i have to be up early 
e: we live on a floating rock 
s: are u a flat earther now?
c: lol i can go i have to be home by 1 tho
h: i can’t 
s: me neither
m: boooo im going
e: ok so meet at 11:30 leave at 12:45
c: ok
m: ok yay
second, you grab fluffy coats and a camera
and hope no serial killers show up
third, you get in your car and blast the heat and music
and speed down the country lanes 
singing jumbled lyrics and wrong melodies
you pull into a dark parking lot
to one car waiting to greet you
illuminating midnight pavement
you park diagonally and swear it was on purpose
It’s hard enough to park in the day time
you join your friends
the two who managed to come
and spread blankets in the chilly grass
stare at the cloudy night sky
knowing it’ll block you from seeing anything anyway
but at least it’s fresh air and an empty expanse all to yourselves
you laugh and swap gossip from the past few days
watch the mammoth clouds shuffle lazily through the sky
spend a joyous hour on your back
until it’s time to leave
“do we tell the groupchat it was amazing?”
“sure, yeah, we saw a million meteors”
smirk and part ways

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