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I love the Summer Reading Program that my library sponsors each year. There are prizes, a free tote bag, word games, and the Reading Bingo Card. Each square contains a challenge (read a book written by two authors, read a graphic novel, read a book with a title that contains a color, etc.). This program has led me to books and authors I never would have read otherwise. This year, my library has included activities to the card, which I also think is a lot of fun.

My local public library is not the only library to do this, and these programs are not new. Growing up on Long Island, I participated in the child's version every summer at that library. It culminated in a party with certificates, and one had to give short summaries of every book read to a librarian. 

I hope you participate in one, even if you don't read a lot. Because these activities force you to read things that are new to you, you could end up falling in love with a genre, an author, or a series.

However, there is never any poetry on my Bingo Card from my library (nor on bingo cards I have seen at other libraries). Poetry needs to be a part of these fun programs because poetry needs to be better integrated into everyone's lives.

But enough soap-box preaching! I am here to Walk the Walk! 

Below you will find 3 Poetry Bingo Cards: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The goal is to fill in the entire card (that's known as a black-out in Bingo). Keep good, specific notes of everything you read, including the dates--everything you read for this Bingo must be read from now on (so no, "I read that Robert Frost poem in high school, 38 years ago, so I am counting that.") Nope. Starting now. Re-reading is fine, so feel free to dig up that Frost poem and re-read it. Also, no doubling up! If you read "Bless This Bagel" by Shirley Geok-lin Lim for the READ 10 BLOG POEMS space, you cannot also use that poem for READ AT LEAST 2 POEMS BY THESE POETS space.

If you just want bragging rights once you finish a card, I will happily clap as you brag. If you finish all three cards, let me know. I will instruct you on what I need as far as your notes, and I will supply a (very) small prize to go with your real prize of reading lots of poetry.

Keep track of your reading, and take as long as you need. I suggest EVERYONE start with the Beginning BINGO card. Most important--Have Fun!


Read these 5 sonnets by William Shakespeare: 18, 29, 104, 116, and 130

Read 10 different poems that I have posted on my blog

Memorize a short poem: a haiku, a Nasher, a limerick, a fragment, a tanka, or just a very short poem

Read Lucy Terry Prince's "Bars Fight," Phillis Wheatley's "A Farewell to America," and Anne Bradstreet's "To My Dear and Loving Husband" 

Read at least one poem by each of these poets: Al-Khansa, Rumi, Abu Nuwas, Mahmoud Darwish, and Maram al-Marsi

Click here to go to the Poetry Foundation website and read Sappho's biography and some of her poems 

Read at least 5 poems by Matsuo Basho, including at least 2 haibun poems

Read Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer, Chicago by Carl Sandburg, The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks,  and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes

Attend a poetry reading, poetry slam, poetry festival, or open mic poetry event in person or online

Read at least one of the Presidential Inaugural poems (by poets Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, Richard Blanco, Amanda Gorman)


Go to YouTube and watch these poets read one of their poems: Patricia Smith, "Skinhead"; Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California"; Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"

Read 5 odes by Pablo Neruda (here are a few suggestions: Ode to

Salt, My Socks, Wine, Sadness, Broken Things, Artichoke, Bird Watching, and Soap

Find a link to a literary journal here on my website (on my home page or where I've listed my published poems), click on that link, and read the poetry in that journal's issue

Read 5 poems by each of the following poets: Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Ai, Jackie Kay, Sonia Sanchez, Claudia McKay

Click here to read an article about some African poets. Then read at least 5 poems by any of the poets mentioned in the article.

Read these 10 poems by Emily Dickinson: 124, 202, 269, 314, 340, 372, 466, 479, 591, 620

Share one of the poems you have read thus far with someone--read it aloud to them, post the link to it on social media, write it out on a card and mail it, or print out copies and hand out the copies to strangers

Read at least one poem by a poet in each group: Cavaliers, New York School, Sturm und Drang, Harlem Renaissance, Southern Agrarians, Fireside, Nuyorican, Parnassians, and Metaphysical

Read at least 2 poems by each of the following poets: Seamus Heaney, Adrian C. Louis, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mark Doty, Ai, Frank Choi, Paula Gunn Allen, Robert Penn Warren, Juan Luis Guzman, and Sarojini Naidu

Google the words poem, poems, or poetry with another word of your choice (tomato, jump, sports car, deer, summer, baseball, discrete, etc.--best to keep it simple) and then read one of the 1st 3 poems that come up

Time to learn some poetry terms! Go here and read the definitions. Going forward, look for examples of these techniques when you read poetry.  

Read these poems by Walt Whitman: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd;  O Captain, My Captain; and Song of Myself

Start a "POEMS I LOVE" Anthology of your favorite poems. You can do it here online, or create a collection yourself with a binder or a journal

Read at least 5 of the sonnets listed below this BINGO card.

Sweet Air, That Circlest Round Those Radiant Trees by Petrarch                  

Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Douglass by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

First Alzheimer's Sonnet by Marilyn Nelson

Sonnet: The History of Puerto Rico by Jack Agueros

What My Lips Have Kissed by Edna St. Vincent Millay

On Returning to the Front after Leave by Alan Seeger

Probably twilight makes blackness dangerous by Terrance Hayes

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Say Sad by Karen Volkman

Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

Sonnet by Cathy Park Hong

America by Claude McKay

On His Blindness by John Milton

To a Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses by John Keats

Petrarch on West 115th Street by Marion Shore

Sonnet by Billy Collins

Sonnet by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

If I Were Fire by Paul Violi

The World Is Too Much with Us by William Wordsworth

American Sonnet 35 by Wanda Coleman

White Structure


Read these poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins: Pied Beauty, God's Grandeur, and As kingfishers catch fire. Then read a study guide for As kingfishers here.

Subscribe to an online literary journal (many are free to read) that is connected with a university or college.

Find a poet--past or present--who's from or lived in your state, city, county, region, or neighborhood. Read a book by that poet.

Go here and read this article on how to read poems. While there, you can sign up to get a poem emailed to you each day and/or join The Academy of American Poets.

Read the war poems listed below this BINGO card. Think about the various perspectives and attitudes as you read the group of poems.

Read a book of poetry by a current or former U.S. Poet Laureate. This position has had a few names; it started with Joseph Auslander in 1937 and continues through 2023 with Ada Limón.

A chapbook is a short poetry collection, usually 15-40 pages, and typically focused on a specific topic. Buy a chapbook  and read it. Stumped? Click here for a list of some chaps!

Keep adding to your poetry anthology. Start thinking about any similarities in the poems you are choosing; this will help you see what kids of poetry appeal to you most.

Read an anthology of poetry that is based on who the authors are (women, POC, LGBTQA+, where the poets live, the age of the poets, the health status of the poets, etc.)

Read a book by a poet who has won one of the following prizes: Pulitzer Prize , Nobel Prize, UK Gold Medal for Poetry, CBC Literary Prize, Levitt Indigenous Poetry Prize

Read a poem AND a non-poetry piece by at least one of the following poets: Lorna Goodison, Ben Lerner, Elizabeth Alexander, Audre Lorde, Saeed Jones, Mary Karr, Pia Juul, Ocean Vuong, Sylvia Plath, James Dickey, Thomas Hardy, Maya Angelou, Jorge Luis Borges

Read at least 2 poems by these Initial poets: H.D., C.K. Williams, W.H. Auden, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, J. Allyn Rosser, 

R.S. Gwynn, C.P. Cavafy, A. E. Stallings, U.A. Fanthorpe, and B.H. Fairchild


Read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, Patterns by Amy Lowell, Poetry by Marianne Moore, The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats, Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson

Read 5 reviews of poetry collections in 5 different journals. Many journals publish these, but here are a few places to try:

Whale Road Review

Poetry Northwest

The Rumpus

The Malahat Review

The Adroit Journal

The Georgia Review

Take a break from reading and watch a movie about a real poet or about fictional poets or about poetry. The list is below, under this BINGO card.

Read a poetry collection by at least two of the following poets: Gwendolyn Brooks, William Carlos Williams, Robert Hayden, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, James Wright, and Diane Glancy

Buy, borrow, or check out from your library one of the anthologies in The Best American Poetry annual series, edited by David Lehman. Look up more poems by one of the anthology's poets whose work you enjoy.

Read online biographies of the following poets: Jupiter Hammon, e. e. cummings, Catullus, and Robert Browning

Click here to go to the Poetry in Translation website. Read at least 5 poems by 5 different poets who wrote in 5 different languages

Find poems with titles containing one of these words (one word per poem title). 

a family member

a color

a number

a city

a food

a job

Click here and read at least 5 of the poems written by Native American poets

Read the following poems: I know crips live here by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; It's for Life by Barbara Crooker; the event by Khairani Barokka; the fatigue by Eli Tareq Bechelany-Lynch; and Sound Machine by Raymond Antrobus

Read a villanelle, a sestina, a ghazal, a Golden Shovel, an American chinquain, a prose poem, and a pantoum

Research a few poetry organizations in your country. How do they differ in how they promote poetry? Are they for poets, readers, or both? Which one did you like best? Would you consider joining or donating?


In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

Objector by William Stafford

Butsuma by Bern Mulvey

I Never Figured Out How to Get Free by Donna Kelly

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Ode for the American Dead in Asia by Thomas McGrath

Marching Men by Majorie Pickthall

Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa

The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska

In California During the Gulf War by Denise Levertov

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell

The Colonel by Carolyn Forché

We Lived Happily During the War by Ilya Kaminsky

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W. B. Yeats

Syria by Maram al Massri

Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars) by Muriel Rukeyser





Il Postino

The Laureate

Behind the Lines

Bright Star

Little Ashes


Last Call





Before Night Falls



Amour Fou

A Quiet Passion

Don't Be Nice

I Am Not Your Negro

Kill Your Darlings

The Edge of Love

Reaching for the Moon

Wild Nights with Emily

First Cousin Once Removed

Set Fire to the Stars

The Colour of Pomegranates

Things Never Said


Window Horses

The Dead Poet's Society

Poetic Justice

The Happy Poet

The Hippopotamus

Spoken Word

Adult World

Lamya's Poem

The Kindergarten Teacher



Abstract Lights


Read a biography of a poet! Some suggestions: Red Comet by Heather Clark; Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire by Kay Redfield Jameson; The Bughouse by Daniel Swift; The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley by David Waldstreicher; Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford

Click here to go to the Poetry Society of America and read the essay by poet Terrance Hayes, two poems and Hayes' responses to those two poems. 

Read a book of poems by the following poets: Heather McHugh, Mari Evans, Tracy K. Smith, Lucia Perillo, Marilyn Chin, Alice Fulton, Claudia Rankine, Elizabeth Alexander, Lorna Dee Cervantes,

Eavan Boland, and Naomi Shihab Nye

You have been adding to your poetry anthology, right? If not, catch up really fast. Shoot for about 80 pages of poetry, then group them into chapters. Your chapters may be created based on theme, topic, imagery, voice, form, or anything else.

Read a translation of a poem by each of the following poets: Anna Akhmatova, Charles Baudelaire, Yehuda Amichai, Heinrich Heine, Yu Xiuhua, Adelina Gurrea, Giacomo Leopardi, Athena Farrokhzad, and Natalia Toledo

Let's go back in time! Read The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe, then all of the responses and parodies you can find. Look for Sir Walter Raleigh, John Donne, Dorothy Parker, Cecil Day Lewis, Donald Hall, and Diana Di Prima especially 

Read one of Helen Vendler's books about poetry: Poems, Poets, Poetry; Coming of Age As a Poet; Poets Thinking; The Music of What Happens; Our Secret Discipline; Last Looks, Last Books; The Breaking of Style; The Given and the Made; Part of Nature, Part of Us

Try your hand at a black-out poem. Click here for a definition of blackout poetry and some examples.

Read 5 reviews of poetry collections in 5 different journals. Many journals publish these, but here are a few places to try:

Whale Road Review

Poetry Northwest

The Rumpus

The Malahat Review

The Adroit Journal

The Georgia Review

Read a poetry collection by each of the following poets: Danez Smith, Martín Espada, Jayne Cortez, Li-Young Lee, Kimoko Hahn, Richard Blanco, Lauren Camp, William Stafford, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Jay Meek

Look at some independent poetry presses online. Order a book that has been published in the last 12 months by the press that is most appealing to you.

Read these essays about poetry by clicking on the links: Blur the Boundary

Close Reading

A Better World

The Machine

Mere Being


Read these poets--a book or at least 5 poems.

Tacey M. Atsitty

Saeed Jones

Meg Eden

Dorothy Chan

Despy Boutris

Daniel Nathan Terry

Chelsea Rathburn

Memorize a poem that is longer than 6 lines, then recite that poem to at least one other person.

Read at least one of the books about poetry/creativity by the following poets: Heather McHugh, Mary Kinzie, Ross Gay, Tony Hoagland, Carl Phillips, Kim Addonizio, 

or Ellen Bryant Voight

So much drama! Follow the links below (or if there are no links, Google the name) for controversies in poetry.

Anders Carlson-Wee and The Nation; here; here; here; Austrailia's Ern Malley; here; here; here

Read the poems listed below this BINGO card. Be aware: all of these poems focus on violence. 

Attend a poetry reading, conference, or event. Buy a/the book by the poet/one of the poets and get your new book inscribed or autographed.

Read one of these Poetry+ books: Cane by Jean Toomer, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide by ntozake change, Obit by Victoria Chang, Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

Read some nature poets (5 poems by all of the poets below or 1 book by one of these poets): Pattiann Rogers, Craig Santos Perez, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Camille T. Dungy, and Juan Felipe Herrera

Read one of these collections that include persona poems: Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady, Kettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher, The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart by Gabrielle Calvoressi or the anthology Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser

Write a review of one of the books you have read or interview a poet and write up your interview. Click here for some advice and an extensive list of lit journals where you can submit your review or interview. And then do it! Yes, you!

Do one of the following: start a poetry book reading group, join a poetry slam group, create a poetry blog or podcast, install a free poem box outside your home, work to get a racist place name near you re-named for a poet, volunteer as a poetry reader for a lit journal, start an online open mic poetry reading series, or sponsor a poetry contest

Rape by Adrienne Rich

bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward

Dog Sacrifice at Lake Ronkonkoma by William Heyen

Female Infanticide: A Guide for Mothers by Adrienne Su

Indian Boarding School: The Runaways by Louise Erdrich

My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

At Last We Killed the Roaches by Lucille Clifton

Love Letter to a Dead Body by Jake Skeets

Out, Out--by Robert Frost

The Mother Writes to the Murderer: A Letter

     by Naomi Shihab Nye

A Poem for Pulse by Jameson Fitzpatrick

Safe by Linda Gregerson

Plague Victims Catapulted Over Walls by Thomas Lux

Night, Death, Mississippi by Robert Hayden 

Litany of Ordinary Violences by Torrin A. Greathouse

To the Little Girl in the Used Car Lot off Second Avenue

    by Priscilla Atkins

Decency by Emily Jungmin Yoon

What I Learned by R. Erica Doyle

For a Black Man, Everywhere Is Summer

     by Blessing Omega Ojo

For the Thief by Alison Hawthorne Deming

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