A 1928 copy of 'Poetry A Magazine of Verse' by the Forward

Daily distraction: National poetry month

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

A quarantine haiku:


Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? While readings and festivals have had to think on their feet given the pandemic, many are providing fresh ways to celebrate. This Sunday…

Read, listen to, watch or write some poetry

Where to start? The Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard has an expansive archive of audio recordings available on its website, including readings by poets Dorothea Lasky, Phillip Larkin, Dylan Thomas and Xi Chuan. If you’re not feeling Cambridge (a Yale person, maybe?) the 92nd Street Y is streaming new poetry-themed events from authors such as Ilya Kaminsky, Hanif Abdurraqib and Billy Collins to its Online Poetry Center. (If your tastes range less contemporary, don’t worry, the Y also has audio of long-dead luminaries like Vladmir Nabokov and Robert Frost.) And if you’re particularly in the mood for Yiddishkeit, you can also watch a YIVO lecture on radical Yiddish poetry.

If you want to test your own skills as a poet, take your cue from Senator Cory Booker or a brave Boston E.R. doc and write your own pandemic poems. Post them to social media using the hashtag #ShelterinPoems and join a community of citizen poets writing through the stress of this moment. If you’re happy with what you’ve made — or think it needs work — The Word Barn in Exeter, N.Y. is hosting Thursday Zoom workshops through the end of the month.

For more, reference the The New York Times, which has much more on classes, reading opportunities and even poetry-inspired films. Above all, don’t forget to get in touch with your inner muse this April.


PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.

Isolation entertainment: National poetry month

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