As the impending conclusion of April’s National Poetry Month rapidly approaches, the organization responsible for originating the celebratory time will continue hosting perennial events.
Academy of American Poets
Upon immediate entry on the Academy of American Poets website, visitors are allowed to participate in a fundraiser dedicated to equipping “free teaching tools to thousands of educators.” Recognized as “the largest membership-based poetry organization in the country,” the academy provides substantial information on ways to connect with poets for different programs. It also connects visitors with a large variety of poems, job opportunity connections, an itinerary of upcoming events, and more.
The most recent event produced by the academy was the 20th annual Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala Fundraiser, which occurred on April 26th of 2023. Michelle Campagna, who services the organization as the Advertising and Marketing Director, said this past month’s festivities included “luminaries from across the arts and culture, including poets Richard Blanco, Kimiko Hahn, and U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón.”
Free for all who attended, Campagna said the organization’s goal is to “represent geographical diversity for in-person events, though we’ve primarily focused on promoting virtual events, which are accessible to a larger audience, over the last few years. We also spotlight an event each week in the Academy of American Poets Newsletter and on social media during National Poetry Month, and year-round; this is our #PoetryNearYou Pick of the Week,” she said.
Developing an effective call-to-action dedicated to providing both upcoming and seasoned poets an opportunity to boost the coverage of their work, the academy decided to make their National Poetry Month logo downloadable. As for expansion plans, Campagna said “The Academy of American Poets will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2024!”
Sheila McMullin, a poet, writing coach, and budding somatic herbalist, also allocated time this month to host a few workshops for writers featuring topics that include “mindful poetry and nature writing.” Aside from being skilled in poetry, McMullin has also found strength in teaching and editing. She’s even authored several books, including daughterrarium, which received sizable praise. “I bring over 15 years of writing coaching and editorial experience to The Write Magick, which is a collection of my writing services and offering,” she said. “I understand that writing a book is more than words on paper — it’s a powerful, introspective process that forges community.”
In addition to establishing her self-made brand based on her interests, she’s also currently serving on the advisory board for the Contemporary Irish Arts Center of Los Angeles and has received an extensive education. “Many writers come to me when they feel burned out or uninspired to do the thing they were charged to do, often believing they are not worthy of the challenge ahead of them,” McMullin said. “And I get that because I have experienced this myself, so I come to all my interactions with compassion and belief in their potential.”
Keeping Clients Grounded
Moreover, she establishes an understanding between her and her clients that will offer them solace. “I value noticing what is happening in the body (constriction in the chest, feelings of anxiety) as important information to guide how we will approach the task at hand,” she said. “I bring in ritual, meditative practices, sometimes herbs to ground us.”
Alongside formulating spirituality and intricate connection into her work, she also enjoys collaborating with writers who do not necessarily consider themselves writers. “Every fall, I work with teens applying for college on their personal statements,” she said. “As college has become more inaccessible, it has felt equally important to honor the time I spend supporting these young writers to understand this moment as a springboard for multiple potential futures.”
With time, McMullin has been able to assess the acquisition of the goals she’s achieved through “the level of trust” she places within herself, even though she’s endured several problems related to her physical health. “I’m currently recovering from both a broken ankle and a myomectomy, which have radically changed my day-to-day,” she said. “I also live with chronic pain and am constantly learning about the importance of riding the rhythms of the day like a wave, picking the fruits of labor when I have the capacity, and trusting that in rest and slowness, creativity still blossoms, and all is going according to plan, even without predictable routine.”
Indran Amirthanayagam is an author, poet, co-publisher of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. He is a director, translator, and former diplomat who has also prevailed within the media sector. Fluent in languages including Haitian Creole, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, he cultivated adoration for poetry at the age of 14 and started writing to “deal with uncertainties.”
He views “poetry as rebellion and revolution, being connected to social happiness, feeling part of society, as salvation, a way to release endorphins. The word is sacred, and I’m a vessel,” he said. Adding a bit of musical flair to his skill set, while in college, he was able to write lyrics for a punk band he was involved in after finding heavy influence from Allen Ginsburg. “Poetry is a language, a language of words – one close to song and dance,” Amirthanayagam said.
Having lived in New York, Hawaii, and Haiti at different points in his life, he’s acquired a level of freedom found in remaining open-minded and always willing to learn and teach. While numerous people place high regard on the way they appear on social media, Amirthanayagam instead has great concern for the quality of life of those who become “obsessive and dependent” on it. Encouraging demand for limits, he suggests reading, meditation, and walking are a few great ways for people to stay connected to a metaphysical experience as opposed to the strict manipulation of technology.
As for his current service with Beltway Editions, he attributes great effort placed into the award-winning online literary journal and resource bank with the likes of his co-publisher, Sara Cahill Marron, and editor, Renee Gherity. DMV-based, the team still ensures poets living in various parts of the world, such as Australia or England, are given a platform for their poems to receive visibility among the general public.
Because Amirthanayagam is adept in translation, poets who write in other languages can also submit their work for transcription or review if desired. Aspiring to increase the number of books published by the resource bank from four a year, he has “reasonable expectations” for its continued growth.
For more information, check out his personal content at https://www.youtube.com/@indranam/videos.