April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate the art of poetry than to have an event that is dedicated to creative writing? Even though National Poem in your Pocket Day is not until April 29, New Paltz decided to come together to celebrate and honor poetry on April 18.
Last Tuesday, the Sojourner Truth Library hosted their annual Poem in Your Pocket event. Here, students, faculty and other members of the New Paltz community gathered in the main lobby of the library to share their works of art. There was a haiku writing station, a poetry and literature book sale as well as hot beverages and sweet treats.
The woman who made it all happen, Chrissy O’Grady, has been a research and education librarian at the Sojourner Truth Library since 2019. This is the fourth annual Poem in Your Pocket event on campus, although this is the first in-person rendition.
O’Grady spoke about the effects that COVID-19 had on plans for the event. “I had planned to share pocket poems in person in 2020, and that was not going to happen. So I’m glad that now we can have some sort of physical gathering space for all of us,” O’Grady revealed.
Over by the coffee and cookie table sat a rack of books filled with works of poetry and literature — a little preview of the Monster Book Sale that was set to take place on the following day, Wednesday, April 19.
The poems and the speakers themselves were truly beautiful inside and out. The poetry presented ranged from one poet to the next. These beautifully curated works of art addressed topics that many would find hard to openly discuss. The poems covered topics ranging from climate change to death and dying to flowers and gardens to aging and mental health.
Over at the haiku station were members from the New Paltz Poetry Club. In the corner by the window, there was a typewriter set up with pocket-sized papers – perfectly fit for a poem. All were welcome to write a haiku and share it with everyone afterward; a sort of on-a-whim experience.
The Creative Writing department co-sponsored this wonderful collective for poets.
It was truly a lovely event to attend. Hearing the poetry of fellow students, professors and local community members was so rewarding.
Thank you to Chrissy O’Grady and the Sojourner Truth Library for hosting such a wonderful event, and to the Creative Writing department for co-sponsoring this. Providing a safe space for people to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences through poetry is so important on this creative campus.
For future reference, if you or anyone you know in the New Paltz community would like to read poetry at next year’s Poem in Your Pocket event, be on the lookout for an email from Chrissy O’Grady in early March 2024.
If you would like to hear a few of the poems shared at this year’s event, make sure to check out the recently posted videos @sunynplibrary on Instagram.