Unfolded by Surprise

March 23, 2023

One summer, sitting with a group of poets and poetry enthusiasts at Frost Farm in Franconia and looking back at the mountains, as the sky shifted to black and tall torches were lit to light the lawn, it wasn’t difficult to understand why this place was a refuge for Robert Frost. I recall listening to the poems being read on this warm, July night and thinking about the number of poets and writers inspired by our beloved New Hampshire.  The dramatic changing of the seasons, the wind whistling through a stand of trees, the sound of birds in conversation or singing to greet the dawn, the ripple of the waves as the water reaches the shore on our many lakes and ponds.

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets launched an initiative designating April as National Poetry Month. Since then, it has become one of the largest literary celebrations in the world bringing together teachers, students, poets, booksellers, librarians, and everyone interested in poetry, in all its many forms.

There are many ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Magazine has asked New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary to design 30 poetry prompts throughout the month.  You can follow New Hampshire Magazine on  Facebook and  Instagram to find them.

In Alexandria Peary’s words: “These prompts are meant to springboard you into invention. Try to record your response to the prompts without prematurely revising. I could imagine at least two ways of handling them: draft 3-5 lines to each day’s prompt (returning later to complete the compelling ones) or sketch out a full rough draft to a select number. Of course, feel free to alter the prompts as you see fit! However, you decide to experiment, I hope you enjoy the creative process.”

When you have written your poem share it with New Hampshire Public Radio. Each week NHPR will share selected submitted poems on the air.  Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary will join All Things Considered host Peter Biello to reflect on your submissions.  Many of the poems will be featured on the NHPR website.

NHPR has selected a theme for each of the four of the weeks in April:

  • April 3 – 9:                  Belonging
  • April 10 – 16:              Growth
  • April 17 – 23:              Waiting
  • April 14 – 30:              Mistakes & Solutions

“Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a metal keeps its fragrance.  It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went.”

Robert Frost

“The Figure a Poem Makes”

Complete Poems of Robert Frost

(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, 1964)