2011 National Poetry Month Poster
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National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. It is celebrated every April in the United States and (since 1999) in Canada as well. Since 2000 Great Britain has celebrated a National Poetry Month each October. National Poetry Month was inspired by the success of Black History Month, held each February, and Women’s History Month, held in March. In 1995, The Academy of American Poets convened a group of publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organizations, poets, and teachers to discuss the need and usefulness of a similar month long holiday to celebrate poetry. The first National Poetry Month was held in 1996. In 1998, the Academy joined the American Poetry Literacy Project to distribute 100,000 free books of poetry from New York to California during National Poetry Month. On April 22, President Clinton and the First Lady hosted a gala at the White House which featured Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove. For National Poetry Month in 2001, the Academy invited people to “vote” for poets they most wanted to have a postage stamp. More than 10,000 people cast ballots, with Langston Hughes receiving the most votes. The vote tally was sent to the United States Postal Service, which issued a Langston Hughes stamp in January 2002.