national poetry month

National Poetry Month: Resources for Poets and Writers

We’re in the final full week of National Poetry Month. This week we’re featuring resources at Doherty and around Houston for aspiring poets.

Houston supports an active creative writing scene.  In addition to having our own Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Zepeda, poetry events and literary readings are held throughout the city almost every week. Here are a few sites for finding an event near you:

Poetry Events at Houston Public Library

The Poetry Card – Readings Around Town

First Fridays Poetry Reading Series

We also have a wealth of resources at Doherty to help aspiring writers develop their poetic voices. If you’re looking for some inspiration, try reading new poetry in a literary magazine or  journal. You can access full-text articles from some of the top journals in the field through the library website:


American Poetry Review

The New Yorker

Poetry Magazine

The Atlantic

The Paris Review

For books about poetry writing and more Poetry Month resources, see our Poetry Month Pinterest board.

National Poetry Month: U.S. Poet Laureates

It’s National Poetry Month, and this week we are exploring U.S. Poets Laureate and their changing roles over the years.

The position of poet laureate of the United States is somewhat different from that of Britain, where the title was first established in the 17th century. Whereas the British office renders the laureate a salaried member of the British royal household, the United States poet laureate acts as the chair of poetry for the Library of Congress.*

In the U.S.,  the poet laureate is charged with raising “the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” The poet is chosen yearly by the Librarian of Congress.  The position was instituted in 1937 as the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress and was held by 30 poets before an act of Congress in 1985 changed the name to poet laureate.**

There have been 52 Poets Laureate.  Here are a few notable poets to explore:

Robert Penn Warren (Laureate 1944-45 and 1986-1987) – Best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning work of fiction All the Kings Men, Warren was also regarded as one of the best poets of his generation. His works were often inspired by Southern history and Southern life.

Gwendolyn Brooks (Laureate 1985-1986) – Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded poet with the distinction of being the first African-American author to win the Pulitzer Prize and the first black woman to hold the position of Poet Laureate. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period.

Billy Collins (Laureate 2001-2003) – Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself.

For additional poetry resources, see our National Poetry Month Pinterest board. 

National Poetry Month: Latin American Poets

It’s National Poetry Month, and this week we are exploring Latin American poets and their contributions to the poetic tradition.

Many debates and exchanges have shaped Latin American poetry over the years. A number of its most powerful movements are expressions of cultural and political conflicts surrounding the evolution of Latin American and national identities. Although there are examples of poetry from this region dating back to the pre-Columbian era, it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that Latin American poetry took its place on the world stage.

Use the links below to discover some of Latin America’s most notable poetic voices:

Ruben Dario (Nicaragua) – Considered the father of the Latin American modernism movement, Dario fused traditional poetic style with new innovations in imagery and rhythm.

Gabriela Mistral (Chile) – Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American author to receive the Nobel Prize in literature; as such, she will always be seen as a representative figure in the cultural history of the continent.

Pablo Neruda (Chile) – One of Latin America’s most prolific and well-known poets, Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. He received many prestigious awards throughout his lifetime, including the International Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Octavio Paz (Mexico) – Often nominated for the Nobel Prize in his lifetime, Mexican author Octavio Paz enjoyed a worldwide reputation as a master poet and essayist.

For more Latin American poetry resources from Doherty, see our poetry month board on Pinterest.

National Poetry Month: Catholic Poets

April is National Poetry Month, a time when literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its place in American culture. To celebrate, we’ll be posting reading lists and poetry resources every week. This week we are exploring Catholic writers and their impact on the poetic tradition. Find sample poems and more information by clicking on each poet’s name.

The Saints and the Spiritual Tradition

Although they are not often studied from a literary perspective, the spiritual writings of these saints provide early examples of Catholic devotional poetry. 

St. Francis of Assisi – Several poems praising God and nature are attributed to St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order.

St. Hildegard of Bingen – This Benedictine visionary’s prolific writings include poetry, hymns, and theological treatises.

St. Teresa of Avila – A Spanish mystic and Camelite nun, St. Teresa documented her spiritual evolution through poetry and other theological works.

The Medieval and Renaissance Traditions

Francesco Petrarch – Petrarch, considered by many to be the father of Humanism, is also credited with the development and popularization of the Italian sonnet.

Geoffrey Chaucer – The undisputed father of English poetry, Chaucer is best known for his memorable portraits Canterbury pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.

Dante Alighieri – Dante Alighieri’s epic poem La Divina Commedia presents an allegorical vision of the afterlife and is among the most significant works of Western literature.

The Modern Tradition

Gerard Manley Hopkins – Hopkins was a Jesuit priest and is generally considered one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era.

Hilaire Belloc – Belloc was a controversial figure known for both his radical political views and his mastery of light poetry in the style of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

Thomas Merton – A monk who lived in isolation for several years and one of the most well-known Catholic writers of the twentieth century, Thomas Merton was a prolific poet, religious writer, and essayist.