National Poetry Month -- Rhyme Is The Reason For More Than 60 Literary Events In The Puget Sound Region

You know that National Poetry Month is here to stay when the Washington State Apple Commission gets into the act.

An organization that promotes our state's position as the nation's leading apple producer may seem pretty far removed from the art of poetry - even if poets as far back as biblical times have been using images of trees, and of apples, and of what can happen when you lie under one and gnaw on the other.

But the apple commission sees a different scenario. It has joined with the Academy of American Poets and the American Poetry & Literacy Project in a a poetry giveaway, Johnny Appleseed-style, that should create public goodwill for our state's apple growers as well as the two poetry groups. It even has caused Jim Thomas, communications director for the apple commission, to wax, shall we say, poetic.

"We're excited to be part of a program that plants seeds of literacy across the country," says Thomas in a news release from the academy. He even is alleged to have added, "Our growers are known for taking the `road less traveled.' "

And no doubt they apologized to Robert Frost as they did so.

This is by way of introducing one of the showcase events - it's called the Great APLseed Giveaway - in next month's annual National Poetry Month, a 30-day celebration that has been hugely successful in calling new attention to one of the oldest, if chronically underappreciated, art forms. Poetry readings, panel discussions and other public events are scheduled nationwide, and once again the Seattle area is among the most active celebrants.

More than 60 events are planned in the Puget Sound region, according to Chris Higashi, associate director of the Washington Center for the Book and a member of the Literary Arts Alliance, which is coordinating local plans. It is an effort that Tom Bevan of the Academy of American Poets calls a "standout."

"I think Seattle really is a feather in the cap of National Poetry Month," says Bevan, who is the academy's director of marketing and promotions. "There simply isn't any other region of the country that has organized itself so well."

Highlights of next month's Seattle-area events include:

-- A Celebration of Poetry: Twenty-five separate programs at the Downtown Public Library and at various neighborhood branches will feature readings of original new work or favorite older poems by local poets, children and library staffers.

-- Magnetic Poetry Wall: Seattle's Rainier Square Atrium will be one of 14 locations in the nation to have a free-standing 8- by 20-foot wall, in place throughout the month, that will allow passersby to compose their own poems using small magnetized word tiles. On April 1, the wall will be opened for poetry with an appearance by City Councilman Nick Licata, poet J.T. Stewart and a group of third-graders from North Beach Elementary School.

-- Seattle Poetry Festival: A literary extravaganza April 24-26 that will feature poetry readings, videos and open mikes at Richard Hugo House, the resource center for writers at 1634 11th Ave., Seattle.

-- Celebrating American Poetry: A series of programs at the Frye Art Museum that includes readings, discussions and art exhibits.

-- "The Poets Among Us": Public radio station KUOW-FM (94.9), will broadcast the recent six-part series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum that featured poets Sam Hamill, Heather McHugh, Colleen McElroy, Sherman Alexie, David Wagoner and a special tribute to the late Denise Levertov.

But back to the apples. The Great APLseed Giveaway is the brainchild of Andrew Carroll, executive director of the American Poetry & Literacy Project (APL). He founded the nonprofit group in 1993 with the late Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel Prize-winning poet who was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1972, emigrated to the United States and later served as U.S. poet laureate.

Brodsky believed poetry could help students of all ages learn to read and to appreciate the power of language. Since its founding, APL has placed more than 125,000 free poetry books in hotels, supermarkets, libraries, jury waiting rooms and Amtrak trains.

During next month's Great APLseed Giveaway - a four-week odyssey by Ryder truck - Carroll plans to distribute 100,000 free paperback copies of "101 Great American Poems," "Great Love Poems," "The Raven," "Civil War Poetry," "African-American Poetry" and other anthologies published by Dover.

Carroll's itinerary, from the United Nations in New York on April 1 to San Francisco by April 30, will take him to libraries, schools, colleges and government buildings in towns across the Midwest, South and Southwest, wherever he finds an audience for poetry. The academy plans to track Carroll's journey and publish his diary and daily features on its Web site, www.poets.org.

"We love anything that works with schools and promotes literacy," says Kari Volyn, public relations manager of the Washington State Apple Commission. "So the Great APLseed Giveaway is a perfect fit."

Such crowd-pleasers as the Giveaway and Magnetic Poetry Walls are only the latest efforts to generate enthusiasm for National Poetry Month by offering events tailor-made for local television news. In a well-documented event last year, volunteers handed out free copies of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" on April 15 - tax day - at post offices in seven major cities.

"In just two years, National Poetry Month has become an American institution, the largest and most democratic celebration of poetry in the world," says Bill Wadsworth, executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Indeed, he appears correct.

Bookstores reported increases of 25 to 30 percent in poetry-book sales in 1996 and 1997, and high-profile sponsors - The New Yorker, Borders Books & Music, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Internet's Yahoo! - have clambered aboard the bandwagon. In addition, some 90 other for-profit and nonprofit companies are funding some aspect of the celebration.

Now, as we reach for an apple, here's a list of National Poetry Month activities in the Seattle area:

Wednesday Spring Poetry Extravaganza: Thirty poets from Seattle Love of Life Poets read from their work; 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, University Village, Seattle; 206-789-4899.

Thursday Celebrating American Poetry: John W. Marshall is the featured reader; 7:30 p.m., Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; 206-622-9250.

Friday Pure Poetry Series: Jack Remick is the featured reader; 7:30 p.m., Louisa's Cafe, 2379 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle; $3 donation; 206-325-0081.

Saturday Greenbank Farm Poetry Festival: Music, dance, interactive poetry exhibits and an open mike; featured performers include David Ossman, Tim Churchill, Liz Waldron and the Trickster Hero Orchestra; noon to 6 p.m., Historic Greenbank Farm, Whidbey Island; 360-221-6422. Allen Ginsberg Memorial Workshop and Poetry Marathon: Steve Potter leads a workshop in Ginsberg's poetry, 1-4 p.m.; and there will be a marathon poetry reading in honor of Ginsberg, 8 p.m.-dawn; Northwest SPLAB!, 14 S. Division, Auburn; $10 (students free); 253-735-6328.

April 6 A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by Heidi Broadhead, Pat Duggan, Murray Gordon, Carol Shaw and Rodney Williams, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Magnolia Branch, 2801 34th Ave. W.; 206-386-4225. Living Room Reading Series: Paul Hunter is the featured poet; 8 p.m., Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-689-8661.

April 7 A Celebration of Poetry: Jody Aliesan is the featured reader; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Henry Branch, 425 Harvard Ave. E.; 206-684-4715. Seattle Poetry Festival: Sneak Preview: Special edition of Real to Reel Reading Series featuring Salem and other writers; 7:30 p.m., Speakeasy Cafe, 2304 Second Ave., Seattle,206-728-9770. Salon@Borders Reading Series: Paula Friedrich, Jodi Meadows and Michael Spence are the featured poets; 6 p.m., Borders Books & Music, 1501 Fourth Ave., Seattle;206-622-4599. Homeland Reading Series: Micah Hulscher is the featured reader, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave., Seattle; 206-689-8661.

April 8 A Celebration of Poetry: Readings of favorite poems by local writers, library staff and anyone else who signs up; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206-386-4636.

April 9 Pontoon Anthology Extravaganza: Readings by James Gurley, Cal Kinnear, Marlene Muller, Judith Skillman and 13 other poets who contributed to "Pontoon: An Anthology of Washington State Poets"; 7 p.m., Lee Auditorium, Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206-386-4636. A Celebration of Poetry: Crysta Casey, Pesha Gertler, Joyce Keller and Judith Skillman are the featured readers; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, University Branch, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E.; 206-684-4063. A Celebration of Poetry: Lee Cooper, Janet Lawless, Bill Odekirk and Pieter Zilinsky are the featured readers, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave. S.W.; 206-684-7444. 19th Draft Poetry Living Room: Open reading in a poetry-circle format; 7 p.m. Northwest SPLAB!, 14 S. Division, Auburn; 253-735-6328. Celebrating American Poetry: Readings by teachers from Seattle-area schools; 7:30 p.m., Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; 206-622-9250.

April 11 Literary Arts Alliance Reading: Charlie Burks, Paul Hunter and Bob Redmond are the featured poets; 2 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Fremont Branch, 731 N. 35th St.; 206-684-4084.

April 13 Living Room Reading Series: Steve Potter is the featured poet; 8 p.m., Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-689-8661. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured poet is Sam Hamill; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 14 Poetry Reading: Shane Luitjens reads from his work; 7 p.m., Beyond the Closet Bookstore, 518 E. Pike St., Seattle; 206-907-5081. A Celebration of Poetry: Bruce Fleming, Clarice Keegan and Peter Munro are the featured readers; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Green Lake Branch, 7364 E. Green Lake Drive N.; 206-684-7547. Homeland Reading Series: Elana Kupor is the featured reader, followed by an open mike; 8 p.m., Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave., Seattle; 206-689-8661. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured poet is Heather McHugh; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 15 A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by three members of the South Grand Poets group: T. Clear, Linda Greenmun and Margaret Hodge; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Columbia Branch, 4721 Rainier Ave. S.; 206-386-1908. Seattle Love of Life Poets: Featured readers include Kelly Riggle Hower, Victoria Millard, Daniel Pearl and Randy Schuder; 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, University Village, Seattle; 206-789-4899. Community Poetry Reading: Community open mike, five minutes per reader; 7 p.m., Raven Cafe, Langley, Whidbey Island; 360-221-5746. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured poet is Sherman Alexie; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 16 Poetry Reading: Charlie Burks and Stephen Thomas read from their work; 7 p.m., Open Books: A Poem Emporium, 2414 N. 45th St., Seattle; 206-633-0811. A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by a local children's author and winners in the under-12 category of North East Library's annual poetry competition; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, North East Branch, 6801 35th Ave. N.E., 206-684-7539. Poetry Reading: Jana Harris reads from her epic poem based on the lives of Northwest pioneer women, "The Dust of Everyday Life"; 7 p.m., University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle; 206-634-3400. Subtext Reading Series: Maris Hundzins and Crag Hill are the featured poets; 7:30 p.m., Speakeasy Cafe, 2304 Second Ave., Seattle, $5 suggested donation; 206-728-9770. Celebrating American Poetry: Contributors to the 1998 Metro Bus Poetry Project read from their work; 7:30 p.m., Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; 206-622-9250. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured poet is Colleen McElroy; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 17 Under-age Poetry Slam: Fourth qualifying slam of new season; signups at 7:30 p.m.; $3 suggested donation/students free; 8 p.m. Northwest SPLAB!, 14 S. Division, Auburn; 253-735-6328. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured poet is David Wagoner; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 18 FourWord Reading Series: Featured poets are Noreen Koga, Paula Friedrich and Allison Durazzi; 7 p.m., Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, $5 suggested donation; 206-322-7030. A Roomful of Poets: A poetry, music and dance collaboration, with featured readers Christopher Howell, John Kulm, Susan Zwinger and others; 7:30 p.m., Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 565 Camano Ave., Langley; call for tickets, 360-221-8262.

April 19 San Carlos Poetry Reading: Annual event to benefit Exhibition, Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council's literary and visual arts journal; Richard West is the featured poet, followed by an open mike; 1-4 p.m., San Carlos Restaurant, 279 Madison Ave. N., Bainbridge Island; 206-842-7901. Sundays at 1 Poetry Series: "Moonviewing: A Collaboration of Koto Music, Poetry and Ancient Japanese Dance," with David Crandall, Yukie Iitomi, Elizabeth Falconer, Joan Laage, Dappini Butoh and Pamela Moore Dionne; 1 p.m., Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St., Port Townsend; $5; 360-385-6267. Literary Bus Tour: Copper Canyon Press hosts a literary bus tour of Seattle, with guides and a box lunch and beverage from Cafe Campagne; assemble at 1:30 p.m. in Cafe Campagne/Inn at the Market courtyard, 86 Pine St., Seattle, $50; reservations: 360-385-4925.

April 20 A Celebration of Poetry: A community read-aloud with Stuart Anderson, Daniel Comiskey and others invited to read favorite selections; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Fremont Branch, 731 N. 35th St.; 206-684-4084. A Celebration of Poetry: Liz Walsh-Boyd reads her poetry, related to the life and work of Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Beacon Hill Branch, 2519 15th Ave. S.; 206-684-4711. Living Room Reading Series: Dawn Wynn is the featured poet; 8 p.m. Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-689-8661. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured is Part I of memorial tribute to Denise Levertov, with Robert Creeley, Sam Hamill, Colleen McElroy, Jan Wallace and Emily Warn; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.90).

April 21 A Celebration of Poetry: Beth Bentley, Melinda Mueller and Anne Pitkin read from their work; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Green Lake Branch, 7364 E. Green Lake Dr. N.; 206-684-7547. A Celebration of Poetry: J. Glenn Evans, Bonnie Olson, Jennifer Rickards, Carol Shaw and Len Tews read from their work, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Magnolia Branch, 2801 34th Ave. W.; 206-386-4225. A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by James Gurley, Judith Skillman and John Willson, who are contributors to "Pontoon: An Anthology of Washington State Poets"; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, University Branch, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E.; 206-684-4063. Homeland Reading Series: Jason Calsyn is the featured poet, followed by an open mike; 8 p.m., Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave., Seattle; 206-689-8661. "The Poets Among Us": Broadcast of the recent reading/discussion series at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, moderated by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book; featured is Part II of memorial tribute to Denise Levertov, with Robert Creeley, Sam Hamill, Colleen McElroy, Jan Wallace and Emily Warn; 9:30 p.m., KUOW-FM (94.9).

April 22

A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by Karen Havnaer, Lynn Miller, Thom Schramm and Diane Westergaard, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch, 5711 24th Ave. N.W.; 206-684-4089. Poetry Reading: David Wagoner reads from his work; 7 p.m., Everett Community College, 801 Wetmore Ave., Seattle; 425-388-9583.

April 23 A Celebration of Poetry: Readings by Carol Jane Bangs, Cathy Coen, Kevin Craft, Michael Hood and Judith Roche; 7 p.m., Lee Auditorium, Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206-386-4636. A Celebration of Poetry: Linda Malnack is the featured reader, followed by an open mike; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. S.W.; 206-684-7455. A Celebration of Poetry: Mercedes Lawry is the featured reader, with winners in the age 12-18 category of North East Library's annual poetry competition; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, North East Branch, 6801 35th Ave. N.E.; 206-684-7539. Poetry Reading: Joannie Kervran and Donna Waidtlow read from their work; 7 p.m., Border Books & Music, 1501 Fourth Ave.; 206-622-4599. Celebrating American Poetry: An evening of poetry with Tina Kelley, Robert McNamara and other contributors to "The Poem & the World, Vol. IV," featuring poetry from Seattle and its sister cities; 7:30 p.m., Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; 206-622-9250.

April 24-26 Seattle Poetry Festival: Literary extravaganza featuring readings, performances, literary films and open mikes; 7-11 p.m. Friday, 2-11 p.m. Saturday and 2-7 p.m. Sunday; Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle; 206-322-7030.

April 25 Poetry Reading: Tim Moxley reads from his work; Borders Books & Music, 1501 Fourth Ave., Seattle; 206-622-4599.

April 27 A Celebration of Poetry: Robert King, Linda Malnack, Daniel Pearl and Seattle Love of Life Poets read from their work; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Broadview Branch, 12755 Greenwood Ave. N.; 206-684-7519. Living Room Reading Series: Sheila Ostadazim is the featured poet; 8 p.m., Habitat Espresso, 222 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-689-8661.

April 28 A Celebration of Poetry: Christine Deavel, Carol Light, John W. Marshall and Peter Simpson read from their work; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Green Lake Branch, 7364 E. Green Lake Drive N.; 206-684-7547. Homeland Reading Series: Kristi Marshall is the featured reader, followed by an open mike; 8 p.m., Globe Cafe, 1531 14th Ave., Seattle; 206-689-8661.

April 29 A Celebration of Poetry: Paul Hunter and Belle Randall read from their work; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, University Branch, 5009 Roosevelt Way, N.E.; 206-684-4063. A Celebration of Poetry: A reading by Jeff Crandall, Peter Pereira and Gary Winans, members of the South Grand Poets Group; 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Columbia Branch, 4721 Rainier Ave. S.; 206-386-1908. Poetry Reading: Danika Dinsmore reads from her work, followed by a poetry slam; 7 p.m., Redmond Public Library, 15810 N.E. 85th St., Redmond; 425-885-1861.

April 30 A Celebration of Poetry: Stephen Thomas and Arthur Tulee read from their work, followed by a discussion; 7 p.m., Lee Auditorium, Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave.; 206-386-4636. Celebrating American Poetry: "The Poetry of Art," readings by Seattle-area students who participated in the Frye Art Museum's annual school poetry competition; 7:30 p.m., Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., Seattle; 206-622-9250.