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National Poetry Month Poster

National Poetry Month Poster, 2013 Design: Jessica Helfand and Jessica Svendsen, Winterhouse

Each year, the Academy of American Poets asks a designer to produce a poster in honor of National Poetry Month (which is April) to hang in more than 150,000 classrooms across the United States. The prompt typically comes from a line in a poem, and, like all poems, the designer is urged to respect the line breaks. Which can be enough to make even the most intrepid typographer want to self-immolate. (Did we mention the privilege of designing said poster goes hand in hand with it being a pro-bono effort?)

This year's prompt took its cue not from a line of poetry but an entire volume of it: in this case, Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. An embarassment of riches, matched only by the equally opulent discovery of a friend's remarkable collection of vintage hotel stationery, a sampling of which is featured in the final poster (along with a number of examples from the designer's own collection).

Somewhere in a classroom in America, the hope is that one of of those 150,000 posters will encourage a child to write — or, given the visual evidence here, to travel. Along the way, we're thinking that it might also serve to trigger the next generation of ephemera collectors. And frankly, what could be more poetic than that?

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