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You Sent Us Your Poems. Here Are The Ones That Resonated With Poets

Calling all poets — even and especially if you don't call yourself one. Use #NPRpoetry to send us your mini poems and we'll feature some of your submissions each week of April.
Calling all poets — even and especially if you don't call yourself one. Use #NPRpoetry to send us your mini poems and we'll feature some of your submissions each week of April.

Updated April 19, 2021 at 11:43 AM ET

Every April, in honor of National Poetry Month, we call on our audience (yes, you!) to help us celebrate the art of the verse.

Keeping with NPR tradition, we're asking for your original poems: haiku, couplets, free form, you name it. This year — our spoken wordsmiths may be pleased to know — we're adding TikTok to the mix.

How to share your poem

On Twitter: Tweet your poem, in 140 characters or less, with the hashtag #NPRpoetry.

On TikTok: Post your poem to your TikTok page using #NPRpoetry. Remember to keep it to no more than 15 seconds and, of course, radio friendly.

Each week for the rest of the month, a professional poet will join All Things Considered to talk about some of the submissions that caught their eye. We'll continue to update this page with those conversations.

(Note: Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. NPR may publish your submission in any media or format and/or use it for journalistic and/or commercial purposes generally, and may allow others to do so.)

"We're All Poets"

You Sent Us Your Poems. Here Are The Ones That Resonated With Poets

TikTok isn't just for dancing. Ayanna Albertson (@untouchableyann) has found success on the video-sharing platform through her spoken-word poetry. She helps us kick off National Poetry Month with an original poem and shares her wisdom for budding poets.

"We're all poets," she says. "I don't mean that to minimize the art of poetry, but there is always someone who needs to hear what you have to say."

"Stay Grounded"

You Sent Us Your Poems. Here Are The Ones That Resonated With Poets

Franny Choi, co-host of the VS podcast from the Poetry Foundation and author of the poetry collection Soft Science, shares a few of her favorite listener-submitted poems. Check them out below, and click the audio link to hear what struck her about her picks.

Choi's advice for amateur poets?

"Stay grounded in the concrete things," she said. "Stay grounded in your five senses and the things that you can taste and smell and touch. I think there's a tendency to go really big and philosophical and feel like you need to have this great big answer to enormous questions. But actually, I think our job as poets is just to create a little bit of language that encapsulates just the small thing about our lives that might fly into the heart of somebody else through words."

"Lower Your Standards"

You Sent Us Your Poems. Here Are The Ones That Resonated With Poets

Poet and memoirist Mark Doty, winner of the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry, contemplates love, loss and mortality in his work.

Doty, who chronicled the AIDS epidemic in his books, says our current health crisis offers poets a new realm for meditation.

"Poetry is a way of knowing more fully where you are and who you are," Doty said. In these pandemic times, he said, "You need to look at your sense of isolation or disconnection: What does it mean to stay home? What does it mean to be deprived of things that are usually a part of your daily life and that help you to feel you are yourself?"

You can view his favorite listener-submitted poems below.

Asked for tips he would share with other poets, Doty borrowed frank wisdom from American poet William Stafford to help writers who hit a wall: "Lower your standards."

"That's actually very good advice," Doty said. "First you have to say it however you can, get it on the page, and then start making the language better — make it more interesting, make it more surprising."

No Rules Needed

You Sent Us Your Poems. Here Are The Ones That Resonated With Poets

Samuel Getachew's love of poetry sprung from his avid reading habit during lunchtime in grade school.

"My teachers, in my first classroom writing assignments, would always tell me, 'This is good but it's not academic writing — this sounds like poetry,' " he said. "So there was kind of a moment in middle school where I started writing poetry super intentionally. And then I just never looked back."

Getachew served as the 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and was a finalist in last year's National Youth Poet Laureate program.

Asked for advice he has for others hoping to write poetry, he said, "Writing doesn't have to have rules if you don't want it to."

As for inspiration, he shares an exercise favored by many poets — both new and experienced — as a way to get started writing: Find a line that resonates with you in a favorite book, poem or song. "Use that as the first line of whatever you want to write."

Scroll down to check out the listener-submitted poems that resonated with him.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: April 7, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this piece misspelled Ayanna Albertson's first name as Ayana.