In 1996, the Academy of American Poets deemed April as National Poetry Month.
“In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians and teachers, the Academy chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation ... April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry – in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round,” as stated on the Academy of American Poets' website.
Joining this nationwide celebration is Augusta's P.R.A. Publishing.
Since 2000, the publishing company has held its Poetry Matters contest.
The program allows area writers of all ages to submit their pieces for cash prizes.
“When we began our contest, we saw it as a way to give recognition to an underrepresented art form in this area. After seeing and hearing the positive feedback from teachers, parents and student winners of our contest, we realized that we were on to something. It has not been until recently that we can see actual evidence that what we have given to this effort has geared more fruit than even we could have imagined,” said Rashida C. Weedon, company publishing assistant.
Winners from this year's contest will be recognized on April 26 at the Columbia County Library.
For some, the urge to write poetry isn't confined to one month.
On a monthly basis, the Senior Poets' Corner meets at Riley's Whitby Bull restaurant. This group of poets welcomes all ages, club co-founder Joan Lacombe said.
On a weekly basis, USC Aiken's Guild of Poetic Intent meets in the Humanities & Social Sciences building on campus.
On the third Tuesday of every month, the Guild holds an open-mic night at El Cameron Feliz, 406 Main St., Graniteville.
This club consists of at least 12 members, according to adviser Roy Seeger.
Seeger began this club when he came to USCA in 2008.
Seeger, an English instructor, includes poetry in his regular class curriculum. On his own time, the teacher might try his pen at poems inspired by comic book stories or cartoons.
“I try to put humor in my poems,” he said.
Kendall Driscoll, of Aiken, writes with a different goal in mind.
“My poetry takes several different forms, but the common denominator with my poetry is that I intend for it to be powerful to the reader/listener,” she said.
Driscoll, a Furman University sophomore, is releasing her poetry book “A Close Proximity to the Heart” this fall.
“She is the youngest author to be part of the P.R.A. Publishing family ... Driscoll is the winner of the 2010, 2012 and 2013 Poetry Matters Contest,” according to a release.
This writer is currently studying music education.
“When Driscoll's not writing, she performs actively on the flute and violin, partaking in anything and everything musical,” according to a release.
Discroll dabbles in novel-writing, too.
She has written poetry since middle school.
While she attended Aiken High School, Driscroll started to attend open mic sessions.
“During that time, I was drawn to performance poetry and the beauty of the written word,” she said.
Both Seeger and Driscoll have seen the musical aspect of poetry.
When Seeger teaches poetry to his classes, he might ask them, “Do you hate music?” No one ever says they do, he added.
“Poetry is meant to be spoken aloud,” Seeger said. “There's a kind of musicality to it.”
It was Driscoll's invested interest in music that drew her even more to poetry. “Poetry presents freedom of expression,” she said. “It was an art form which felt much like music to me.”
For more information on National Poetry Month, visit www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41.
Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.
Editor's note: This version of this story has been updated to correct the phone number for Robert Brock. The correct number is 803-649-3470. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.
Below are local ways to support poets or become your own.
• PRA Publishing Company
This independent publishing company out of the Augusta-area publishes poet's works, as well as hosts writing workshops.
For more information, visit www.prapublishing.com or call 855-790-7700.
• Senior Poets' Corner
This Aiken-based group meets monthly and welcomes members of all ages.
For more information, call Joan Lacombe at 803-642-3872 or Roger Brock at 803-649-3470.
• Guild of Poetic Intent
This group is out of USC Aiken, meets regularly and hosts public events.
For more information, email Roy Seeger at email@example.com.
• Kendall Driscoll
Driscoll of Aiken writes poetry, studies music and will release her book this fall.
For more information, visit www.kendalldriscoll.weebly.com.
Submitted Photo Kendall Driscoll, right sitting, with fellow authors Jane Elkin and Derek Berry. Standing is Lucinda Clark of P.R.A. Publishing. P.R.A. Publishing is producing Driscollís upcoming book.×
Submitted Photo Joan Lacombe is a co-founder of Aikenís Seniorsí Poets Corner. Pictured is Lacombe presenting at last monthís meeting.×