Celebrating April with Poets!

April is National Poetry Month, and it’s time to appreciate the incredibly moving and connecting powers of the art of poetry. Here are four rockstars of the profession, each with their own dimension of style and structure. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “poetry” person, check these amazing artists, for there is so much to learn from them.

Ada Limón

Ada Limón. Photo: Poetry Foundation

Ada has published five books, the most recent of which, called Bright Dead Things, I just purchased. I definitely recommend it! She often uses her poetry to comment on social movements or current issues in the United States, such as violence and income immobility. Originally from Sonoma, California, she was influenced by visual artists throughout her childhood. Her work is both gentle and expansive, as she ties small, everyday occurances to large, sweeping issues that humanity faces. She was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics award.  

Featured Poem: “How to Triumph Like a Girl”

Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong. Photo: Poetry Foundation

Ocean Vuong was born in Saigon, Vietnam, but now lives in Massachusetts and serves as an Assistant Professor at Umass-Amherst. His poetry is often related to his childhood in Vietnam. His debut collection of poetry, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is a beautiful but tragic compilation of moments he describes with photographic clarity. He has a powerful ability to trudge up emotions in the reader. Night Sky With Exit Wounds received a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016 award, and he has also been the recipient of the T.S. Eliot prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. He is a poet who is appreciated and praised for his raw authenticity.

Featured Poem: “A Little Closer to the Edge”

jos charles

jos charles. Photo: jos charles website

jos charles is a trans poet, writer, translator and intertextual artist. She founded THEM, which is the first trans literary journal in the United States. She has published two works of poetry: Safe Space and feeld, which was the winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series. jos is active in gender justice work with several organizations. Her poetry explores brave new terrain by purposely spelling words incorrectly. Her succinct and carefully chosen words paint new sounds for the reader to explore, as if each poem is a new world with a language all its own. The reader is left feeling like a newborn dazzled by new surroundings.

Featured Poem: “Bottom Feed”

Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm. Photo: Claire Wahmanholm website

Claire has roots in the midwest and is a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Her chapbook, Night Vision, won the 2017 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook contest. She recently published her first full-length work, titled Wilder. Her second collection, Redmouth, is already announced and will be published sometime in 2019. Claire is praised for her ability to cross time and space with her language. While expansive, she writes with a concise and streamlined voice and tone. In Wilder, she tackles apocalyptic moments and the overwhelming feeling of utter loneliness.

Featured Poem: “Breach”

Poetry is powerful, breaks rules and connects the tangible to the intangible. Don’t dismiss it if you don’t immediately fall in love! If one of the poets above didn’t speak to you, I guarantee there is a poet out there writing something that connects with you. Find them! Art is so important and poetry can be crucial for healing, sparking change and spreading awareness. Keep reading poetry, and happy National Poetry Month!