National Poetry Month


National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.


Poem of the Week

This week we introduce Gemelle John, 2018 Emerging Artist Fellow in Literature: Poetry

Artist Statement:

I write often about the ways we manifest our grief. I think we’re in a particularly taxing time where we have to learn to feel these constant agitations, personal or perspective-based, but we also need to disconnect from it or we won’t survive.  It’s a constant balance of feeling empathy and allowing it for ourselves.

How the living go slowly

This grief


A love, knowingly flesh toned

until dust

sours the way your lips

borrow air


You swallow like

consumption has ever made

made you less afraid

of losing everything


color photographs in

with hollow songs

and fingerprints

laugh a memory over a sob

and often

a shiver is your sigh


you wait for it to lay cracked and

callused like

your knuckles soft and smelling of heat

your other friend eats

salad for three days straight


maybe you’ll tell her how nothing

she changes is that seismic

how fear isn’t that contemplative

how dying is


never as tense

as the resting palms


that another word for

this cycle is lust and

that lust has never

coated a bone

enough to make a lung

See former Poet Laureate, JoAnn Balingit’s full length column on Gemelle John here.

This week we introduce David P. Kozinski, 2018 Established Artist Fellow in Literature: Poetry

Artist Statement:

Each poem makes its own rules. The poet’s job is to find it, shape it so it moves on sturdy legs and speaks with confidence, and then send it out into the world. Someone said, “The poem is the arm, the poet the sleeve from which the arm emerges,” or some such. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s pretty good.

My Theory of Relativity

This is about the kindness

of a dog and how a human should be,

a little about cruelty,

but mostly about scale    – how vast

it all appears; the indifference

of the bluest fields

and the nearest, newest moon.


Friends, when I say this is about

I mean history; the day and night, sleep

and travel, tenderness and the grinder.

In another hour the sands might still,

the glass stopper itself; hands

gesture to nothing


but nothing unstopped stays the same.

The silo empties as regularly

as a lab rat’s feeder.

Whatever first lifts us up

from then on pulls down – the perpetual

drizzle, the unsolvable

argument of a trench seen from space

and the chasm so deep under water

where every story runs in its own time.


Meet David P. Kozinski and Shannon Connor Winward, 2018 Emerging Artist Fellow, Fiction at their upcoming reading at the 2nd Saturday Poets series in July!

This week we introduce Sophia Zhao, 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold Medalist, Poetry.

Artist Statement:

Poetry is a register of my thoughts, liberated. It allows me to share stories through unconventional, sometimes paradoxical language where death can be more meaningful than life and gardens outlive their growers. It is where I can celebrate my culture or critique my history, pushing me to speak and study with hard consideration and empathy. It is a deep foxhole blurred at my corners of reality and fantasy, memoir and fiction– where the real is unreal, driving me to depict not the truth, but a perspective.


there was
a field
of mandarin oranges and
mandarin ducks on the
cold, naked

where grandma’s
apartment is.
the way
baba tells it, larks flew there
as if searching
for paradise. their

heavenly kingdom;
velvet leaves–robes on branches–
for royal reality,

saccharine smiles.
bona fide oak and maple and
orange. no
roots, just tart sugar. with

fingertips in barkholes,
fervor crushing copper rush–
roaring pulp an
unripe boys and girls
tanned, left in
sticky dust.

he tells me to imagine
my fingernails stained.
something like
that hurts–

i imagine

baba’s eyes,
as acrylic as his country’s
vermilion rind.


at the cusp of integrity a deaf goddess asks:
what do you make of it?
naked boars amongst wild boys,
and girls who clutch gala–

trailing with fake momentum under eternal
gravity, to sideways freefall. there
is a dead beagle on the highway’s edge,
sunken into calcium and

hoping that vultures are prey.
mangled. collapsed into slippery
sleep and factory smoke.
listening to truth– the consummation

of invisible petroleum and flying
cicadas. if we believed in the healer,
dead hearts powering dried blood,
barbed wire would be laced with camellias,

countryside twine to encapsulate
noble dogwood. young people should go
beetle-hunting ghostly, so as to skip
celestial sundays. for those cold

peals of his windchime: unsettled
against stagnant wind, an
overwhelming flood purging the
palace’s fake divinity.

This week we introduce Dominique Kendus, 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold and American Voices Medalist, Poetry.

Artist Statement:

Poetry is what forces me to find the beauty in everything, no matter how small or mundane. It pushes me to turn normal, everyday occurrences into something much larger and more profound. It is a tool that helps me to better appreciate life and relationships I’ve formed. It is a part of what makes me who I am. So what does poetry mean to me? Absolutely everything.

Light and Dark

all we have to separate the mind from the body
is light and dark, the stretching of god’s hands


over the world and ourselves. sometimes I imagine
that even the sun asks to be tucked in at night because she


doesn’t want to fall asleep alone either. and there lies the
ultimatum. her fears versus ours. but how could we expect god


to refuse another bed time story: a chance to be heard,
a chance to say “I know exactly why you exist, I know


why you need to be touched just to make sure
that you are still here.” he knows we are not all light.


I know a boy so empty his father’s fists
pass right through him as if punching the dust


from his ribcage. his broken breath a reminder
that he still has something to lose in this world.


and I know a father broken and praying to a god
he cannot recognize as his own,


holding the darkness in his church-shaped hands
which soften in daylight.


he kisses the blood off his stained glass knuckles
and prays for morning. his god is heavy with


the weight of history, with the burden we know as genesis.
but how could the body, graceful and vulnerable, refuse to touch


darkness. how could the body not repeat its own muscle
memory like a communal prayer, the repetition of beliefs


that course through its folded hands. and how could the body,
almightily dark and wholly light, refuse to know that it is still here.

This week we introduce the Delaware Poets Laureate, also known as the Twin Poets.

Celebrate Locally

To celebrate locally, we’ll feature one “Poem of the Week” each Monday written or recited by a local Delaware poet. We’ll reveal the week’s poet on Facebook, so check back here mid-morning for the artist’s statement and full length poem.

Check out for additional literary and poetry events now, soon, and near you.


Division Programs

Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest

Delaware Poet Laureate

Delaware Writers Retreat (biennial)


Regional Resources

Delaware Poetry Review

Delaware Writers Studio

Wilmington Writers Conference

Lewes Writers Conference

Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild


National Resources

Academy of American Poets

Poetry Foundation


Arts Opportunities 



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