April is National Poetry Month, and 2021 is the 25th anniversary of this cherished literary celebration. Since its debut in 1996, National Poetry Month has only grown in popularity, with tens of millions of readers, teachers, students, librarians, publishers, families and, naturally, poets joining in on the festivities.
You might ask, “What’s so special about National Poetry Month?” Poetry has the beautiful power to break its readers wide open as they make an array of discoveries about themselves and the world around them. Poetry can change the way you see the world — politically, morally, environmentally, linguistically and even psychologically.
As poets.org affirmed, poetry “reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and prompts us to remember that poetry matters” — and matters a whole awful lot.
Social Media’s Role in National Poetry Month
In the 21st century, National Poetry Month has flourished due to social media’s abundance of sharing potential. Podcasts, Instagram, Twitter and hashtags are just a few ways that allow for easy posting and circulating. Poets everywhere have been given clear platforms to share their work with the masses, and there’s no better time to celebrate the transformational powers of poetry than National Poetry Month.
It’s no surprise, then, that there has been a surge in Insta poets across the globe this April. Three notable Insta poets that have played an active role in this year’s National Poetry Month celebration are @angelealowes, @raquelfranco.poet and Pittsburgh local @amykaypoetry.
Texas-dwelling Angelea Lowes is an up-and-coming Insta poet who currently has 2,594 followers and a published poetry collection under her belt titled “Sunset Lavender.” She released 30 prompts — one prompt for each day in April — to celebrate this year’s National Poetry Month. Her prompts are adaptable and allow for a lot of wiggle room.
She employs 30 striking phrases as her prompts. A few examples include “girl, serpent, thorn,” “the love that split the world,” “museum of heartbreak,” “no matter the wreckage” and “daughter of smoke and bone.” Lowes encourages poets to include these notable phrases in their respective poems, whether in the form of inspiration, creativity, direct incorporation into the body of the poem or even simply as the title.
Lowes created the hashtag #angelealowesprompts for the creators that use her prompts, so they have a collaborative space to see other poets’ masterpieces. The hashtag serves as a clear example of the expanded possibilities that social media has yielded for National Poetry Month’s horizon. As of now, 819 poets have allowed their creative genius to blossom from Lowes’ niche prompts and her hashtag; beyond their own creations, people also have the ability to read the poems of the other poets participating in the challenge.
In sum, Lowes has fostered a creative outlet for poets everywhere to share their transformational work with the world.
Raquel Franco, an Insta poet star from Ohio, has amassed an impressive 47,500 Instagram followers. She currently has three books to her name — “Love, Sex and Paper Hearts,” “Keep Me Wild” and “This Woman is Still Girl” — as well as a 2021 preorder collection titled “When the Bee Stings.”
Franco’s 30 National Poetry Month prompts provide a great range of writing opportunities, including “write afters,” where you emulate certain poems; list prompts; set title prompts, which are meant to inspire the body of the poem; themed prompts that range from yard sales to insecurities to self-discovery; and even a prompt that encourages poets to write about Olivia Rodrigo’s popular “driver license.”
The main takeaway from Franco’s wide array of prompts is that poetry bounds are limitless. In other words, poetry can be anything the poet wants it to be. A list can be considered a poem, writing about a yard sale can be poetic and pop culture, such as Rodrigo’s top hit, can be a source of poetic muse. As a result, it’s clear that Franco pushes the boundaries of form in both her wide range of poetic prompts as well as in her own poetry.
Finally, it’s critical to look at the quirky, Pittsburgh-residing Amy Kay. With 18,000 followers, Kay is predominantly Instagram famous for her abundance of poetry prompts, book recommendations and poetry drafts. Kay differs from Lowes and Franco in that she dedicates an entire post to a single prompt, as opposed to posting all of her National Poetry Month prompts on April 1.
Consequently, her followers get a more experimental experience with their poetry creations. They can learn how to craft a haiku, construct a poetic obituary, write a poem on forgiving themselves or ponder how to break a curse. Kay couples her detailed prompts with a poem of her own, following the guidelines of her own prompts. This personalized experience is a pivotal approach to the beloved National Poetry Month.
Not only does it show the raw experimentation of an acclaimed poet, it simultaneously encourages followers to try their own hands at the craft. An instantaneous connection is formed between Kay and her followers, as they both explore and create poetic magic from her prompts in their own distinct ways.
Like Lowes, Kay encourages participants to tag their poetic posts with the hashtag #AmyKayPoemADay. This hashtag fosters an artistic and collaborative space where participants can view the work of others and see their poems as part of a shared entity; this collective appreciation of what poetry can do for an individual and its respective readers is what National Poetry Month is all about.
National Poetry Month is a time to experiment with a new, limitless outlet, and by trying out the creative, niche prompts from the three aforementioned Insta poets, inspiration will bubble up with ease. These three lovely ladies are encouraging poets and non-poets alike to explore with the raw power of words.
National Poetry Month is a time to stir up bright ideas and to learn to appreciate past and modern poetic genius, but don’t let the fact that the celebration only lasts for 30 days hold you back from writing poetry all 12 months of the year. Put on your poetic cap and get ready to write!