Poetry Speaks Across the Country During April's National Poetry Month

    CHICAGO, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Two weeks before the start of National
 Poetry Month, the voice of poetry begins to be heard.  On Monday, March 18th
 at Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre, Poetry Speaks took the stage.
 Programmed as part of its Traffic series, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company
 presented an evening of spoken poetry featuring the work of three poets -
 Robert Bly, Jorie Graham and Sonia Sanchez -- and archival recordings of
 William Stafford, Elizabeth Bishop and Gwendolyn Brooks.
     Two other Poetry Speaks public events are planned for National Poetry
 Month.  On Wednesday, April 3rd in Washington, D.C. the Smithsonian Associates
 is presenting poets Anthony Hecht and Dana Gioia in a program that plays and
 reviews the works of eleven poets including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edna St.
 Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop and W.H.
 Auden.
     The Guggenheim Museum in New York is presenting Poetry Speaks as part of
 their Works and Process series on Monday, April 15th with poets Sonia Sanchez,
 Galway Kinnell and Billy Collins.
     These evenings of poetry were inspired by the book Poetry Speaks: Hear
 Great Poets Read Their Work from Tennyson to Plath, (Sourcebooks MediaFusion,
 October 2001, 1-57071-720-6, $49.95) which has 90,000 copies in print and has
 been number 19 on the amazon.com bestseller list and in 26th place on The New
 York Times list.  The book, which features three audio CDs with 98 recordings
 read by the historic poets themselves, has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as
 the book that "has the potential to draw more readers to poetry than any
 collection in years."
     Poetry Speaks features forty-two poets ranging from W.B. Yeats to Gertrude
 Stein and from Langston Hughes to Dorothy Parker.  A chapter is devoted to
 each poet and also includes text of the poems that are read on the CDs,
 additional poems to further explore the poet's work, a short biography and
 photograph of the poet, original manuscripts or letters for more than half of
 the included poets, and an original essay for each poet written by today's
 most influential poets.
     In addition to the public events created around Poetry Speaks, Book Sense
 -- the American Booksellers Association's marketing arm - has developed a
 bookstore program featuring the book.  More than 150 independent bookstores
 across the country are conducting a poetry contest with their local school
 districts.  Special promotional CD's with selected audio from Poetry Speaks
 have been distributed to participating stores, where they will be played
 throughout the month.
     National Poetry Month is an annual celebration of the richness and
 vitality of American poetry.  The goals of National Poetry Month to highlight
 the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets and to
 bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways are
 achieved by Poetry Speaks in April, and throughout the year.
 
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