Off the Shelf: Take time for poetry

April is National Poetry Month and whether you are a lifelong poetry lover or a new to the genre, this is a great time to read poetry aloud with a friend, write a poem or remember a favorite one from childhood.

• Take a walk in the woods and appreciate poetry among the trees

During April and May, the North Olympic Library System is partnering with Olympic National Park to offer Poetry Walks. Poems will be posted in multiple locations along three trails in ONP: the Living Forest Trail, the Peabody Creek Trail and Spruce Railroad Trail. All three trails can be used without paying fees and hikers and walkers can enjoy a variety of poems set against the beautiful landscapes. Those who find themselves inspired to write a poem or take a photo while on one of the Poetry Walks are encouraged to share them on NOLS’ Facebook page.

• Step into the library and check out a book or magazine

If you’re looking for poetry to read with young children, start with classic nursery rhymes. “Here Comes Mother Goose” and “My Very First Mother Goose,” both edited by Iona Opie and illustrated by Rosemary Wells, are time-tested favorites.

“Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons” by Jon J. Muth is great for the 4- to 8-year-old crowd. Haikus about the four seasons are featured in this book with charming illustrations of a panda bear named Koo. “Poems to Learn by Heart” by Caroline Kennedy offers poems divided into sections about nature, sports, family and more.

Kathleen Flenniken, poet laureate for Washington, grew up in Richland, next to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Her latest book, “Plume: Poems,” is a convergence of personal and historical stories. “Where Thunderbird Rests His Head and Waits for the Song of Return: Poetry for the Elwha River,” edited by Kate Reavey and Alice Derry, is a local chapbook created in 2011 to “celebrate the Elwha River as dam removal begins, freeing salmon to return.”

A great place to discover new poetry is in Poetry magazine and Poetry Northwest magazine. Current issues are available to read in the library; back issues are available to check out.

Visit the North Olympic Library System website at to search the catalog for other poetry resources or drop by the Sequim Library and browse the collection.

• Check out Read a Poem-A-Day

If you’d like to read a new poem every morning by e-mail, subscribe to Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets at Poem-A-Day features previously unpublished work by contemporary poets, as well as classic and historical poems. More information about National Poetry Month can be found at this website, as well.

Whatever you do, reconsider poetry. And if you haven’t already done so, discover how special it is to read a poem aloud.

Here’s a lovely one by Mary Oliver to read to someone you love:



Come with me into the woods where spring is

advancing, as it does, no matter what,

not being singular or particular, but one

of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.



Emily Sly is branch manager at the Sequim Library. Reach her at


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