Let’s celebrate National Poetry Month!

Happy National Poetry Month! To commemorate this important month, Illinois Poet Laureate and Northwestern University Press author Angela Jackson has written a statement to celebrate the rich tradition of poetry in Illinois and remind us that “there’s poetry for all!”

April is National Poetry Month and it’s time to celebrate! As Illinois Poet Laureate, I want to bring the sublime and brave poets of Illinois to our attention. Illinois has a rich tradition of poetry and this month is a good time to call to mind our own excellence.

Gwendolyn Brooks was Illinois Poet Laureate over thirty years ago and the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize of any kind for her exquisite poetry; Carl Sandburg, another soul-stirring poet, is an American legend and an Illinois Poet Laureate; our most recent Poet Laureate Kevin Stein’s poetry lifted up ordinary people.

Illinois has a litany of wonderful poets, including the young people of Louder Than A Bomb, and Marc Smith, who founded Poetry Slams at the Green Mill. We have a wealth of mighty voices, living and gone.

As I have written elsewhere, “We require a choir!” to begin to capture the magnitude and grace of this great state.

Check out poetry in your libraries, bookstores, and online at the Poetry Foundation.

The field of poetry is wide open with free verse, spoken word, rap, language poetry, formal poetry—from sonnets to jazz poetry—there’s poetry for all!

Photo credit: Betty J. Jackson

Angela Jackson is an award-winning poet, novelist, and playwright who has published three chapbooks and four volumes of poetry. Born in Greenville, Mississippi and raised on Chicago’s Southside, she was educated at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Jackson’s collections of poetry include Voo Doo/Love Magic (1974); Dark Legs and Silk Kisses: The Beatitudes of the Spinners (TriQuarterly, 1993); And All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems Selected and New (TriQuarterly, 1998), which was nominated for the National Book Award; and It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time (TriQuarterly, 2015), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Open Book Award and a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Milt Kessler Poetry Prize. Jackson received a Pushcart Prize and an American Book Award for her chapbook Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E (1985). Jackson’s forthcoming collection, More Than Meat and Raiment: Poems, will be published by Northwestern University Press in 2022.

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