For Immediate Release

Poetry Foundation Celebrates National Poetry Month

Programming includes poetry films, multimedia Chicago Poetry Tour, recitation contest, readings, and more
April 1st, 2009

CHICAGO – The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce an exciting array of literary events and programs during April, National Poetry Month.

Poetry Everywhere
Thirty new films debut as part of Poetry Everywhere, a poetry film series produced in association with WBGH and docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, featuring poets such as Naomi Shihab Nye and Kevin Young reading their work, and animated films of poems by Martín Espada, Kay Ryan, Nick Flynn, and more. The films will air on public television online at,, YouTube, and iTunes; they will also appear as interstitials on public television stations.

Chicago Poetry Tour
Also launching this month is the Chicago Poetry Tour, a multimedia tour of poetry written in and about the city of Chicago. Featuring a range of Chicago poets past and present—Gwendolyn Brooks, Carl Sandburg, Li-Young Lee, Haki Madhubuti, Lisel Mueller, Stuart Dybek, and many more—and addressing a variety of neighborhoods and landmarks—the Loop, Bronzeville, Bucktown, Maxwell Street, Haymarket, Pilsen, and New Chinatown among them—the tour includes archival and contemporary recordings of poets and scholars, local music, and historic photographs. The tour can be experienced virtually online at, or downloaded into an mp3 player. 

The Poetry Foundation will host several poetry readings, presented with the Chicago Public Library and Art beyond Borders. Elizabeth Alexander, 2009 inaugural poet, will read on April 8 at the School of the Art Institute’s Rubloff Auditorium; former poet laureate Rita Dove will read at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium of the Harold Washington Library Center on April 25; and Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Philip Levine will read at Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute on April 30. All readings are free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest
At the end of the month, 53 high school students will walk onstage to face their peers, armed only with poems they have memorized and made their own. One will walk away with the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership initiative of the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. The National Finals take place on April 27–28 in Washington, D.C. This year’s program will also feature a performance by singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant. Actress Tyne Daly, radio personality Garrison Keillor, and poet Luis Rodriguez, among others, will judge the competition. Scott Simon of NPR will serve as master of ceremonies. More information is available at

Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute
The Poetry Foundation recently announced the first project of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute (HMPI), the development of a set of “best practices” for implementing and elevating the profile of poetry through new-media platforms. A policy institute dedicated exclusively to issues of intellectual and practical importance to poetry, the HMPI has as its purpose to convene interested parties to identify issues and champion common solutions for the benefit of poets and the art form of poetry. Katharine Coles, poet laureate of Utah, former head of the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and founding director of the Utah Symposium in Science and Literature, has been named the Institute’s inaugural director. More information on HMPI, its goals, and its initial working group is available at


About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit

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