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National Poetry Month is celebrated in April. Let’s take a look at some notable poets and the impact they have had on their community through their work.

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Minitex has great resources; I checked them out, and so should you!

April is National Poetry Month, when we celebrate and acknowledge the impact poetry has within our communities, as well as its transformative nature. I wanted to learn more about Minnesota-based poets and their work. Maybe one day I'll write a classic myself.

The Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) is a great resource. It includes interviews with poets who share their experiences and discuss how they used poetry to navigate and transform the world around them. MDL also has video resources available on a range of topics and is a great way to find primary sources for your research or personal learning. 

One of the names that stood out to me was Margaret Hasse. She is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, where she obtained her master’s degree after receiving her bachelor’s degree at Stanford University. Margaret is a poet, teacher, and executive director of the Minnesota Alliance for Arts and Education. Her poetry collections explore many unique perspectives and experiences, ranging from daily life to more unique and personal situations. Margaret has taught writing to many different communities through various programs she was involved in. The contributions she had in teaching went beyond a traditional classroom, as she also worked with youth in juvenile detention centers and adults in various professional fields. Margaret believes poetry can help people express themselves as well as explore, navigate, and understand the world around them. Learn more about Margaret’s poetry and how she applied her experience as a poet in various classroom settings in this interview, available in the Minnesota Digital Library. 

Another poet that caught my attention was U Sam Oeur, a Cambodian poet whose works include the “Sacred Vows'' collection, later translated into an opera titled “Krasang Tree.” His poetry revolves around the experiences he and his family endured during political strife in Cambodia, where they faced persecution and violence. The poems detail how conflict changed the lives of Cambodians. One jaw-dropping fact I learned was that when he arrived in the United States, he was unable to bring the poetry he had written, so he memorized hundreds of poems in order to be able to publish them when he arrived. Sam (as he prefers to be called) believes poetry can preserve culture and shared experiences, as well as raise awareness of violence. He recalls that he was able to express his emotions and feelings of oppression in order to appeal to people within and outside the community and bring about transformational change. Visit the Minnesota Digital Library to watch his interview, and learn more about his story and journey.

Hasse, Margaret. Interview with Margaret Hasse, Hennepin County, Minnesota. 1988-08-31. Minnesota Historical Society, Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Oeur, U Sam. Interview with U Sam Oeur, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1998. Minnesota Historical Society, Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.

Written by

Jesus Maldonado Sanchez
Marketing & Communications Generalist
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