Book Sense Celebrates Poets—Past and Future—for National Poetry Month

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This April, booksellers can celebrate National Poetry Month with a custom poetry CD (which was exclusively produced for participating Book Sense stores, by Sourcebooks, publisher of the book and CD set, Poetry Speaks) and a poetry writing contest for high school students. Stores can use the offerings -- from "Poets Speak Back, A Poetry Writing Contest," sponsored by Sourcebooks and Book Sense -- as the basis of their National Poetry Month events or as a complement to planned readings and activities.

For the writing contest, bookstores would contact local high school English departments and enlist their participation. Individual high school students or classes can submit original 20-line poems on any topic. The submissions will then be posted on specially created Web pages on BookSense.com.

Ten schools will be chosen at random from those submitting poems to receive the complete Poetry Speaks book and three-CD set from Sourcebooks. One additional school will be selected as the Grand Prize winner and will receive, in addition, each of the titles from the Book Sense Poetry 76 list. Chosen poems will be printed and distributed to all participating Book Sense stores and some will be reprinted in Advance, Ingram Book Company’s trade publication as well as on the company’s ipage Web site.

Meg Smith, business development and marketing manager for BookSense.com, described some of the benefits of the program to BTW: "All stores participating will receive a Poets Speak Back participation kit, which will include the Poetry Speaks excerpt CD created by Sourcebooks only for Book Sense stores participating in this promotion. It includes audio from 24 poets, including T.S.Eliot, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.B.Yeats, Langston Hughes, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Robert Lowell. It can be used as a background loop in the stores or to accompany other events. The poetry contest is a great way for stores to forge relationships with local high schools and expand their customer base."

The Poets Speak Back kit also includes a letter of explanation to help in discussions with schools, custom designed posters for schools to announce the contest, and examples of in-store poetry events conducted by other Book Sense stores.

Jake Reiss, owner of the Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, Alabama, told BTW that he is tremendously enthusiastic about the planned Poets Speaks Back events, "I have contacted four high schools in the area to participate. I hope this program can be expanded to junior high schools and colleges."

According to Smith, Poets Speak Back kits will only be sent to stores requesting them. Please send requests to meg@booksense.com by March 1. Stores sponsoring Poetry Month events or contests can also send descriptions to Smith for posting on BookSense.com and in the BookSense.com Newsletter.