April may be the cruelest month, but then along comes poetry and makes it better. National Poetry Month was originally founded by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 and has taken on a life of its own since then.

Storywalk 2013. Photo courtesy of Poem City.

Storywalk 2013. Photo courtesy of Poem City.

Montpelier, Vermont is a small town (smallest capital in the United States!), but has a huge community of creative types-particularly poets, writers and artists.

Every April downtown Montpelier is inundated with poetry by local poets for the entire month: children’s, well-knowns and unknowns. More than 200 poets are featured in a full text public display in the windows of local businesses.

PoemCity2013 is the main exhibit for the event and has been happening during the month of April for the past three years in celebration of National Poetry Month. They have support from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library , Vermont College of Fine Arts, MontpelierAlive! and several other local organizations.

One of the exhibits features Storywalk, an installation of the children’s book, “Mary Had a Little Lamp,” at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. You can see pages from the book posted all around the outside of the library building, so you can read the story as you take a stroll. There are readings, workshops and poetry related events the entire month of April to keep you busy and inspired. A popular event is the Bear Pond Poetry reading. It’s been going on for fifteen years. I hadn’t realized it’s been around for so long! It doesn’t seem so at all! All events are open to the public and free of charge. Former Vermont Poet Laureate, Ellen Bryant Voight, kicked off the beginning of the event with a reading at the Vermont State House.

Among the featured poets is the current Vermont Poet Laureate, Sydnea Lea’s “Quicksilver Spring,” “Ritual,” and “My Wife’s Back,” displayed at the Vermont Arts Council. Peggy Sapphire’s “A Woman” and April Ossman’s “His Mother’s Hair” are displayed as well. If you are wondering, yes, I do have a poem hanging in the window at the gelato place in town- right on the main drag.

I’m curious to know how other cities-and you-celebrate National Poetry Month. Have you read or written anything so far you thought was the best thing ever? Do you find you have more inspiration during the month of April?

Kris Underwood.

Kris Underwood.

Kris Underwood is the Social Media Editor at Hunger Mountain, the Vermont College of Fine Arts journal of the arts. Her poetry has appeared in Literary Mama, Poetry Midwest and The Barefoot Review. Other writing has been featured at the Hunger Mountain blog, the VCFA blog: 36 College St. and the Ploughshares blog. Visit her blog at http://krisunderwood.blogspot.com/

Recently, there was an article on 15 Writer’s Bedrooms at Apartment Therapy. This got me thinking-not so much about bedrooms, but about the spaces in which we write. What do our fellow poets & writers spaces look like?

I set out to see how other writers set up shop. Here’s what I got:
“My writing space is kind of an anti-space, in that I set up a cute desk in my bedroom, surrounded by poetry books, and I prefer to write at the dining room table. Now that I think about it, it’s probably because, despite wanting to get away from the children and the house and the chores… to write, it all informs my writing more than anything. I guess my muse is smarter than I am.”
-Jill Crammond, poet

Jodi Paloni's writer house.

“Two years ago, my fiancé built for me a tiny writing house up on the hill in the woods. While he hammered and sawed, I wrote lines and quotes from my favorite poets and writers into the wood of the posts and beams and sills. Knowing the words of the masters are literally holding me up gives me a great source of inspiration. The tiny house is the place where I go to escape the bustle of the main house where I maintain a corner for a desk and my bookshelves. I use the woods’ house to work on my novel, write poetry, and coach clients around their creative projects. Space is everything to me.”
-Jodi Paloni, poet

“I’d like to echo Jill by saying that I have a lovely (if cluttered) desk in my room, the Pride & Prejudice room, with lots of books, old journals, and idea boards. But if I need to get serious work done or really concentrate…it’s the dining room table all the way.”
-Michelle A.L. Singer, poet

Patrick Ross' white board.

“I work at a large L-shaped desk that looks out through French doors to my back yard, which features a landscaped rock-garden slope. Occasionally I see a bird, even more rarely a fox, and once a day the neighbor’s tailless cat–I call him Stumpy–stares at me through the glass as he makes his rounds. As you can see in this picture, I’ve covered the wall behind me with white-board wallpaper. Along the top I have a daily calendar to track my VCFA packet–original writing, revisions, reading, and critical essays. Below I put to-do lists, but I also use the space to outline creative writing projects. The white board is my crutch, my totem, and at times, my muse.”
-Patrick Ross, VCFA student & writer

Anatoly Molotkov's writing space.

“ It has a steak dinner on the ceiling, a shy man covered with text named Goombeldt, a fair amount of my visual art, and a variety of percussions and other instruments for when I feel less than literary, including my favorite toy, a Roland Handonic (a finger drumming pad). Two windows, one in front of me and one to the left, create an intriguing duality. A dozen or so books all around me create an intriguing multiplicity. In my old house I had painted the walls multiple bright colors, but in this room I am going with a different, slightly low-key aesthetic. This type of eclectic setup is what I’ve come to like to writing, although it’s hard to say whether it affects my work per se.”
-Anatoly Molotkov, poet and visual artist  

Kris Underwood's writing space.

What about my space? It’s a small corner of the living room. I’m amazed I can get anything done from where it is situated. My laptop sits on top of a narrow folding banquet table. Beyond that, piles of books (usually), papers and random cords abound, though neatly. It is cramped and cluttered. There is just enough space to pass between end table/couch and banquet table. That end table is stacked with books too. On the wall-pictures that catch my eye, those that are inspiring, poems by other people, my first acceptance letter from a major magazine. Covers of magazines: Poets & Writers-the one with Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses, a New Yorker done by Ana Juan.  Pictures my daughter has painted or drawn. There’s one in particular I love-done in October 2010-a forest of trees, bursting with the colors of a New England fall.

I love the idea of writing quotes and lines on the wall! I’d probably do it if I weren’t renting. From my desk chair, I can look out of a huge bay window and see the ridge of the Green Mountains. I always have music going. Most days it’s stuff like Stevie Wonder, the Black Keys, Led Zeppelin, old Motown. Other times some version of Jack White or Reggae. Some people need quiet to write. When it comes down to it, I like the chaos of everyday life, observation.
My space has not always been so stationary. Before, it was always wherever I sat with a pen and notebook: downtown bench, the bar, in the car, even just sitting out on the porch. Years ago, I did have an entire room all to myself with desk, shelves and my old Smith-Corona typewriter. I still have it and use it occasionally-the typewriter, that is.

Kris Underwood.

Kris Underwood is mostly a poet, but has tried her hand at other genres. She currently handles Social Media for Hunger Mountain, the VCFA journal of the arts. You can find out more at her blog, Writing In the Mountains.