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National Willa Cather Center Celebrates National Poetry Month

National Willa Cather Center Celebrates National Poetry Month

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

It isn’t widely recognized that writing poetry represented some of Willa Cather’s earliest literary endeavors. Even after establishing herself as a writer of significance, Cather continued to write poetry and to reshape the presentation of her earliest published poems. In efforts to share Cather’s poetry more broadly and deliver meaningful digital content to Cather fans during this unprecedented time of social distancing, the National Willa Cather Center is hosting virtual poetry readings beginning April 1 in honor of National Poetry Month.

Many of Willa Cather’s poems will be read by notable Cather fans from around the country and the world. Videos will launch at 7:30 a.m. CST on the National Willa Cather Center’s YouTube channel and shared on all social media pages—Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@WillaCatherFdn). Organized by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is held annually in April, which aligns perfectly with Cather’s book of poetry, April Twilights and Other Poems (1923).

A large assortment of her poems have been selected by a gathering of poets, writers, scholars, entertainers, and other luminaries around the world, many of whom have a special relationship with Willa Cather’s writing. Readers have graciously volunteered their time to share these poems with the public. Among the growing list of participating readers are:

  • Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate
  • Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker
  • Matt Mason, Nebraska State Poet
  • Rosanne Cash, acclaimed singer and songwriter
  • Silas House, novelist and NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College
  • Niall Munro, Director of Oxford Brookes University Poetry Centre
  • Kent Pavelka, Nebraska sports broadcaster and grandson of Anna Pavelka

“While Willa Cather is widely regarded for her novels and short fiction, her poetry has often been overlooked by readers,” commented executive director, Ashley Olson. “Like much of her fiction, Cather’s poetry provides clues that help us to define her biography. While socially isolating, Cather fans should enjoy this opportunity to hear her poetry and learn about the creative energy behind it.”

Marketing coordinator, Catherine Pond, who manages the Center’s social media pages added, “Social media is the perfect and most immediate forum right now to engage with our audience and followers. We wanted to seize on this opportunity with National Poetry Month as well as the delightful coincidence that Willa Cather’s only book of poetry is named April Twilights.”

Poetry—and the art of reading aloud—is a needed balm in troubled times and in good times, too. This project is an extension of the National Willa Cather Center’s mission to promote the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather by reinforcing the power and grace of words and how they can always serve to unite us.