April is National Poetry Month, and to honor it literary organizations across the country will be holding special events to celebrate poetry and its importance in American culture. Poetry has played an immense role in our history. If you don’t think so, just look to some everyday examples like our national anthem. Written by Francis Scott Key after the bombing of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally a poem.

National Poetry Month was founded by the Academy of American Poets in hopes of bringing together publishers, readers, librarians and other individuals and organizations in honor of this meaningful art form. Many organizations like Writers and Books, a Rochester-area literary center that holds community events centered around literature, will be holding events in honor of poetry this month. Here are some highlights.

Whether you’re in the mood for a poetry reading, a writing workshop or poetry on film, Writers and Books has the perfect event to please everyone. While many events are free, others do have a small fee, ranging from $3 to $8, with a poetry workshop and a publishing discussion a bit more costly.

First on the list is a reading that will take place Thursday, featuring poems from the workshop at the Auburn Correctional Facility which will be read by local poets. The event will be hosted by Patricia Roth Schwartz, and admission is $6 for the general public.

On Monday, a poetry on film series will kick-off with the film “Slam” – A drama starring Saul Williams and Sonja Sohn. “Slam” tells the story of a rapper/poet who is arrested on a drug charge. He meets a writing teacher in prison who recognizes and encourages his poetic talent. The film series continues on Tuesday and Saturday with other poetry-related films.

The festivities continue on April 17 with readings of poets’ responses to the novel “Kindred,” which was recently featured as the novel for Writers and Books program “If all of Rochester Read the Same Book.” It is a fiction novel about slavery in which the main character goes back in time to trace her ancestry.

Wrapping up the month of celebration will be a reading of translations of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai’s work. Ruth Kessler, an instructor at Writers and Books of Jewish decent, will read her translations. The reading will take place on April 29.

The English department will also be sponsoring some poetry-related events right on campus. As part of the Plutzik Memorial Series, named for the late poet Hyam Plutzik who was a member of the UR faculty, Professor James Longenbach will be reading from his work. The reading will take place at 8 p.m. on April 21 in the Welles-Brown Room.

On April 24 at 5 p.m. the winner of the English Department Literary Competition will be reading their work. The readings will be from different genres of work, including poetry.

The English department will also be hosting a performance. Centered around poetry, multimedia visuals and translations of Iraqi poetry, it will be presented on April 29. The time and place are still to be determined.

Additional events will also be held at both Monroe Community College and Finger Lakes Community College. These lists are far from comprehensive, however, so if you don’t see something that interests you, check out another literary organization.

For more information about the events that will be held at Writers and Books, as well as MCC and FLCC, check out www.wab.org.

Egan can be reached at cegan@campustimes.org.



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