The Rumpus National Poetry Month Project 2018
Every year, The Rumpus celebrates National Poetry Month with new poems from poets we admire. We feature a different poet each day, aiming to illustrate a variety of voices and perspectives in contemporary poetry. New poems will appear on weekday afternoons at 3 p.m. PT, and on weekends at 9 a.m. PT. We’ll be sharing the poems on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and we hope you’ll consider sharing the work of these thirty talented writers on your own feeds, too. You can follow along here, too.
Poetry has always mattered very much to us at The Rumpus. Under the leadership of Senior Poetry Editor Brian Spears, we’ve been celebrating National Poetry Month since 2010, just one year after The Rumpus was founded. Past years have included work from Jericho Brown, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Tracy K. Smith, Eileen Myles, Danez Smith, Jennifer Chang, Cathy Hong, and Gabrielle Calvocoressi, just to name a few. Brian has also given a home to important projects like The Conversation and The Rumpus Inaugural Poetry Project.
Times, they are a-changing, here at The Rumpus and around the world. We’re nearly a year and a half into the Rumpus Matriarchy (and America’s descent into Trumpian madness), and as I’m an erstwhile poet myself, I’ve been rethinking what poetry at The Rumpus could and should look like. Like many of us, I believe that in times of political upheaval and social crisis, poetry is more important than ever. I also know that poetry remains a very white (and often male) space at literary magazines and journals. With that in mind, I decided that at The Rumpus, we should be both making more room for poetry, and in turn, offering that space to primarily poets of color, non-binary poets, and women poets.
In July of 2017, we began to run two original poetry features a month. These features have been solicited thus far, and we’ve shared work from poets including Maggie Smith, Hala Alyan, p.e. garcia, Analicia Sotelo, and Safia Elhillo, among others. Upcoming featured poets include Hanif Abdurraqib, Morgan Parker, Eve Ewing, and more.
Last month, we shared work from the two newest members of our Poetry team, Cortney Lamar Charleston and Carolina Ebeid. Cortney and Carolina bring a renewed energy to poetry at The Rumpus, and are fully on board with my decision to increase the presence of original poetry at The Rumpus, and to highlight work by poets from marginalized communities. Carolina will be leading our effort to begin accepting unsolicited poetry submissions—stay tuned for more on this in summer 2018! Cortney works closely with Brian and me to make sure we are soliciting the best work from poets working today, both established and emerging. (And, special shout-out to Molly Spencer, our Poetry Editor who handles all poetry reviews and poetry features for The Rumpus, and keeps the rest of us in line with her steady guidance and sound judgement.)
This year’s National Poetry Month will in many ways echo years past: we will highlight a wide variety of poetry and poets. But this year, we have a not-so-secret weapon: Cortney Lamar Charleston. Brian and I gave Cortney loose guidelines and a wish-list of poets, and Cortney brought us over thirty mind-blowing poems from a group of poets that, should they all ever be together in one room, might just literally raise that room’s roof.
Just a few stats: 57% of our National Poetry Month poets are women or non-binary. 80% of our poets are writers of color. 33% identify as LGBTQIA+.
We’ll kick off the month-long project on Sunday, April 1, with an extraordinary poem, “Geography of a Bad American,” from M’Bilia Meekers. Don’t miss it, and please stick with us through April, because every day will deliver a new voice and vital words.
Be inspired, be moved, and celebrate poetry!
Rumpus original art by Briana Finegan.