April 11, 2017

Poems in your Pockets & Verse for Every Month

Resources , Public Speaking , Presentation Tips , Just For Fun , The Buckley Experience , Poems to Read Aloud

April has been National Poetry Month here in the U.S since 1996. The Buckley School has been touting the merits of poetry since holding its first Executive Seminar back in 1988.

Our founder, Reid Buckley, believed reading poetry out loud improved your speaking skills. He’d often assign a speaker a certain poem to practice, in his words, “to cure what ails you.”

From Strictly Speaking, here are his thoughts on how to use poetry for better speaking:

  • Ballad poetry for cadence and a sense of fun.
  • Lyric poetry for attention to the vowels…and exquisite enunciation.
  • Tragic poetry for projection of strong emotion….and exercising the plosive consonants.
  • The love sonnets of Shakespeare and Petrarch, the odes of Hopkins and Keats, and almost anything by Yeats for the projection of complex emotion.

He concluded, “The reading of just a little poetry out loud will discover for many readers a new world, one that can develop into a source of permanent joy.”

Buckley faculty may be a little more enthusiastic than the average person about poetry. We have avid poetry readers--and even poetry writers--on our staff. But we firmly believe that reading poems shouldn't be a chore and like to think that everyone can find poems they'll enjoy.

"They get worse. So if you want to lie down or take a sick day, do it now."

– -Bill Murray, reading poems aloud to construction workers building Poet's House

Here’s an easy way to take part in National Poetry Month, get some reading aloud in, and potentially delight (or possibly shock) your friends, family, and co-workers: Participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27.

From the Academy of American Poets website:

Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

They even helpfully provide poems for your pocket to download and print. If you participate, we’d love to hear how it goes!

For fun and inspiration, here's Billy Collins reading his poem "Hangover." Note his inflections and timing. (Our faculty Jenny Maxwell has heard him read this poem for an audience and swears they laughed exactly like this.)

And here's Bill Murray reading poems to construction workers, a video that even poetry skeptics can love:

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