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bsdail picture April 30, 1997

National Poetry Month -- inaugurated in April, 1996, by the Academy of American Poets -- has become the most prominent and far-reaching effort yet to boost public interest in contemporary poetry. While designating a month to pump up the volume, so to speak, may be a welcome prospect for poets and publishers craving attention, there are other ways to promote verse that envision a more private place for poetry in our daily lives.

It's rare to find a site with as clear and quietly stated a sense of mission as Poetry Daily. "Our purpose," its creators write, "is to make it easier for people to find poets and poetry they like and to help publishers bring news of their books, magazines and journals to more people." With more than 1,000 books of poetry (and countless journals) published in the United States each year, it shouldn't be too surprising that readers of poetry often feel lost and overwhelmed. Poetry Daily proposes a modest remedy: one new poem each day, free of charge, along with information about the poet and the book or journal in which the poem appears, all as part of a growing and diverse online anthology of contemporary verse. Without a note of piety or pedantry, the editors of Poetry Daily have set out to show how the Web can offer an inexpensive and potentially powerful way to promote poets and their publishers while also serving readers.

Robert Pinsky, the new U.S. Poet Laureate, observed in an online conference with The Atlantic Monthly in April, 1995, that the decentralizing nature of the Web has "amazing potential for freeing individuals from control, from the treatment of people as masses." "In that," he went on, "poetry (an ancient technology) and new technologies are potential allies in the service of individual creativity, orneriness, imagination." As though taking its cue from Pinsky, Poetry Daily addresses readers as individuals searching for a kind of sustenance only the technology of the Muse can provide -- whatever the month.

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