April is National Poetry Month. Introduced in 1996 and organized by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. The Academy of American Poets’ website, Poets.org, serves as a hub of information about local poetry events during the month. The organization also provides free educational resources for teachers in classroom celebrations and activities and commissions an annual festival poster.
My Top Five Poetry Book Recommendations Available at our Library
1. The American Night by Jim Morrison
Most famously known as the lead singer of the influential and controversial rock band, The Doors, Jim Morrison was also a published poet. Morrison’s one and only book released during his lifetime was entitled The Lords and The New Creatures in 1970. Due to the release of the bestselling book No One Here Gets Out Alive in 1980,—almost 10 years after his death in 1971—introduced Morrison and The Doors to a whole new generation and audience. This was the catalyst in seeing the release of two books of his lost writings. The first one came out in 1988 entitled Wilderness and was an immediate bestseller. This second volume was released in 1991.
Key Poems: An American Prayer, Celebration of the Lizard and Horse Latitudes
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2. Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins is best known as being the lead vocalist of the legendary punk band, Black Flag as well as his own band, Rollins Band. He is also a very celebrated spoken-word performer. This collection, published on his own imprint 2.13.61, is composed of his writings that were recorded between 1989 through 1991.
Key Poems: 124 Worlds, Invisible Woman Blues and Black Coffee Blues
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3. Complete Poems 1904–1962 by E. E. Cummings
Edward Estlin Cummings better known E. E. Cummings is considered one the greatest poets of the 20th Century as well as all time. This vast collection includes all the poems released during his lifetime. It also includes 164 poems that were published for the first time in 1983. In addition, it includes 36 poems that were published for the first time in this collection. Highly influential. Absolutely essential.
Key Poems: i carry your heart with me, you shall above all things be glad and young and may i feel said he
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4. The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry edited by Alan Kaufman
This collection, edited by Alan Kaufman, includes entries and samples of over 200+ different American Poets. From early pioneers of the form through the beats of the fifties onward to the modern era of spoken word and hip hop. The plethora of poets listed, include Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur, James Dean, Tom Waits, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, William Carlos Williamson, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, Gil Scott-Heron, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison and Jim Carroll, just to name a few. A great introduction to the art of American Poetry.
Key Poems: Wanted Man, 241st Chorus and The American Night
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5. The Roominghouse Madrigals by Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski was a very prolific poet with over 30+ books of poetry published. Known for his gritty poems that pulled no punches, this collection includes his earliest writings. These earlier poems showcase a style that is a bit more lyrical than much of his later work. An interesting insight to the growth and maturity of an underground poet turned modern mainstream icon.
Key Poems: It’s Not Who Lived Here, A Nice Place and Insomnia