– Roses are red. Violets are blue. Everyone is a poet–maybe even you.


By Marcus Barnett, Staff Writer for The Current

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Everyone is a poet–maybe even you.

April is National Poetry Month. Poets all over the nation celebrate this month by sharing their work with anyone willing to listen.

National Poetry Month was inspired by the success of Black History Month, held each February, and Women’s History Month, held each March. The Academy of American Poets gathered a group of librarians, booksellers, teachers and publishers to discuss having a similar month-long celebration for poetry in 1995. The following year, in 1996, the first National Poetry Month was born.

On April 25, about a dozen people gathered in the University of Missouri-St. Louis’s Pilot House for an open mic poetry reading event. An open mic event is generally open to the general public, and anyone can sign up or volunteer to recite a poem of their choice, whether they are a professional or an amateur.

Ryan Smith, graduate, creative writing, one of the many poets who performed, was available for a brief interview after he recited his poem of choice. Smith recited the poem “A Hanging Mouse” by Elizabeth Bishop.

“I thought this poem was really interesting. It has a very fabulous tone. I also like how she used animal characters; it reminds me of a children’s fable,” Smith said. He also stated that he frequents open mic poetry reading events whenever he has the time.

UMSL’s Poet Laureate, Jennifer Goldring, was also kind enough to share a little more information about what the Master of Fine Arts program has been doing for National Poetry Month. Goldring stated that the Graduate Writers Association and the Literary Magazine assisted with putting on the open mic poetry reading event in the Pilot House. She also said that the open mic event in the Pilot House was the third and final event that the MFA program hosted this month. If you were on campus anytime during the past month, it is very likely you participated in the MFA program’s Poem in Your Pocket event.

Various professors and other members of the MFA program handed out poems to those in transit in between classes and meetings on UMSL’s campus. Another event that the MFA program hosted was Poems for Charity, where the MFA program’s poets wrote poems for anyone who stopped to make a donation. All donations went to Casa de Salud, a local charity that gives high-quality clinical and mental health services to those who do not have insurance and to those whose insurance does not give them full coverage.

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