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Gearing Up for National Poetry Month

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Gearing Up for National Poetry Month

It has been such a pleasure and honour to be the Writer in Residence for OBT this past month, and especially in light of the fact that next month is also one that I take pleasure and honour in: April, aka National Poetry Month!

Like most month-long celebrations (say, "Black History Month," or "Women's History Month"), the time is never really enough as most would agree that such things should be/need to be celebrated every day of the year.

Some of my favourite ways to celebrate the upcoming month include:

- making a commitment to reading one poem per day, preferably aloud, and either in the morning or before sleep

- no matter your comfort zone with regards to writing, making a commitment to writing a poem every day, preferably without worrying about quality and more just appreciating the habit of making writing a part of your day

- memorizing one of your all-time favourite poems so that it truly stays with you

- purchasing a book of poetry from an author you're not yet familiar with, or is considered "up and coming"

- attending at least one poetry reading during the month of April and making an effort to say something positive to at least one of the readers, or the feature poet (trust me, it will make their month, maybe even year)

- giving your local library some love

- going to an open mic where you know no one and may have no idea what you're doing but decide to read something poetry-related (i.e., to do something different than just be part of the audience)

- if you live with someone, putting a random short poem or haiku in their bag/purse/lunchbox, or if you live solo, putting a poem in your own pocket (by the way, April 21 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day!)

- considering a subscription to a literary journal or magazine

In Muriel Rukeyser's first chapter of The Life of Poetry (which you can read in full, here:), she writes:

"Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth
of feeling, and what is the use of truth?
How do we use feeling?
How do we use truth?"

My mother spoke the truth to me recently when she said, "In poetry, each sentence or phrase becomes an intense version of a whole story. The beauty of a poem is that it becomes a divine, mini universe."

Thank you, Open Book Toronto, for reminding me of the beauty of feeling the truth and the truth that feeling means everything, especially if it opens you up to new universes, or at least new definitions of the divine.

Happy National Poetry Month!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Adebe DeRango-Adem

Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in various North American sources, including Descant, CV2, Canadian Woman Studies and the Toronto Star. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto’s first Junior Poet Laureate. Her debut poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the co-editor, alongside Andrea Thompson, of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out. She was recommended by current Poet Laureate of Canada George Elliott Clarke as a young black "writer to watch".

You can write to Adebe throughout March at

Go to Adebe DeRango-Adem’s Author Page