April is all about poetry at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High St. At 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening in April, a renowned Maine poet will lead a discussion on an aspect of contemporary American poetry. The series, Digging Poetry, is designed to develop a deeper appreciation of modern poetry and will feature poets Gary Lawless, Jonathan Skinner, Candice Stover and Arielle Greenberg.

The series will kick off Tuesday, April 6 with Lawless leading a discussion on Who The Beat Poets Read. Many people seem to think that the Beat poets made their poems from thin air, spontaneously. This talk will look at Allen Ginsberg’s readings of Blake and Whitman; Gary Snyder’s readings of Basho, Han Shan and Milton; Gregory Corso’s love for Shelley and Keats; and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s love of the Surrealists and Situationist French writers.

Lawless is co-owner of Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick and publisher of Blackberry Books. After receiving a bachelor of arts from Colby College in East Asian studies, he lived as apprentice at the home of Beat poet Gary Snyder. He recently received an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern Maine.

On Tuesday, April 13, Skinner discusses Ecopoetics: Language, Form and Site. The reading of poetry that provokes environmental reflection, through form as much as content will include works by John Clare, Lorine Niedecker, Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Larry Eigner, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Juliana Spahr and others.  How do land art (Robert Smithson), conceptual writing (Kenneth Goldsmith) or mestizo poetics (Cecilia Vicuña) change our relation to place? When the very air we breathe is bought and sold, can poetry reclaim the commons? This program will include introduction to some techniques in site-specific writing.

Skinner’s poetry collections include “With Naked Foot” and “Political Cactus Poems.” He has published essays on post-objectivist poetry, on mockingbirds and curing songs and on the life of vacant lots. Skinner edits the journal “ecopoetics” (ecopoetics.org) and teaches in the environmental studies program at Bates College.

On Tuesday, April 20, Stover will lead a discussion titled A Woman’s Place. A woman’s place — where is it? In the home, on the road, on the job, wherever she is on the planet and in whatever poem she writes to show how and where she lives, what she values. In this session, Digging Poetry will look more closely at women in place on the page as they turn to clothespins and resumes, kitchen tables and wishing wells, villas and horse dung, ruby-throated hummingbirds and green peppers for location and inspiration in poetry. Expects works from Denise Levertov, Jane Kenyon, Joy Harjo, Lisel Mueller, Jane Hirshfield, Jung Tzu, Mary Oliver, Nancy Willard, Pattiann Rogers and Mekeel McBride.

Stover is an award-winning poet and writer who has taught in Shanghai and New Zealand, as well as offer courses in the short story, great letters and poetry at College of the Atlantic. Her collections include “Poems From the Pond,” “Another Stopping Place” and “Holding Patterns,” which received a Maine Chapbook Award.

Finally, on Tuesday, April 27,  Greenberg will lead participants through A Century of Radical Verse: A Glance at American Poetry on the Margins, 1910-2010. This talk will look briefly at some of the major avant garde movements in American poetry in the last century, beginning with Modernism and working forward through the Beats, the New York School, the Language Poets and ending up in the wonderful melting pot that is avant garde American poetry as practiced by exciting younger poets today. The focus will be on highlights from and interplay between various movements, with examples of specific poets and poems, rather than on a comprehensive history, and attendees will go home with a list of exercises drawn from the schools discussed and designed to bring out their own inner radical poets.

Greenberg is the author of “My Kafka Century” and “Given,” as well as several chapbooks, and the co-editor of several poetry anthologies, including, with Rachel Zucker, the forthcoming “Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days” and “Women Poets on Mentorship: Effort and Affections.” She is an associate professor at Columbia College in Chicago and is in Belfast to work on an oral history of the current back-to-the-land movement in Waldo County.

The Maine Humanities Council has awarded the Belfast Free Library a grant in support of this program, which is free and open to the public. Prior to each discussion, a packet of poems to be discussed will be available for participants to pick up at the library. Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance for each program so that there are enough copies.

Those interested in participating may sign up in advance by stopping by the main circulation desk of the library or calling 338-3884, ext. 10.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.