April is National Poetry Month, and on April 15, Sojourner Truth Library released their third annual Virtual ‘Poem In Your Pocket’ event live on their Instagram page and website. , Research and Education LibrarianChrissy O’Grady has been running the event the whole time it’s been virtual.When asked why she still does this during these unprecedented times, O’Grady said, “I think it’s important to highlight creatively and expression through poetry and writing. That is especially important with the pandemic and the added stress of living through it. I hope the event is seen as a community event where anyone can submit and have their words shared.”
Although this is the third year the event has been virtual, the library has been celebrating the spirit of National Poetry Month for a few years. In the past, they would publish the submissions on old card catalogs and be put on display in the library, but now due to the pandemic the library needed to find a new way to still put on their event.
Now, you can log on to the library’s website and be taken to a page with an interactive search engine that the library calls their “tornado feature.” This feature allows viewers to sift through some of the poems submitted in a fun and visually stimulating manner. If you want to check out more or all of the poems, all 62 virtual poems are published online as well.
As previously mentioned, this event was not only limited to students, but welcomed submissions from teachers, staff and New Paltz Community members. The event was a beautiful way to bring together the community and incorporate so many creative voices from around the area. Many different people got involved and submitted great works.
It seems like the best form of communication that was used to spread the word and interest was Instagram. There was an Instagram post looking for people interested posted in March. Angelique Santiago, a second-year in the adolescence education program, explained, “My friend sent me a post on Instagram from the library about ‘Poem in Your Pocket.’ It was a spur-of-a-moment type of thing and I looked through my folder of poetry on Google Docs and submitted one.” Santiago’s poem, “Honesty,” is a beautiful piece that shows vulnerability in every line. The narrator not only is being honest with the person on the other end who hurt them, but it feels like they’re also finally being honest with themselves.
When asked how they felt having their work published and visible for people to see on the website, the students who participated in the event were all excited and happy that this opportunity was available.
“It feels really good knowing that there’s a desire to include students’ voices on campus,” said third-year early childhood education major and Black Studies minor Erma-Lee Williams. “I think that by including and amplifying students’ creativity it makes poetry and creative writing more accessible.” Williams wrote an adorable poem that acts as an ode to a crush that gives you “heart eyes.”
“It feels nice to know that it’s on the library’s website,” said another participant, Jennifer Poroye, a second-year music major. “It feels nice to just be able to share your creative work and your writing with others in general, so I’m glad that the library did this and gave me a chance to share it with others.”
The real National Poem In Your Pocket day is April 29, and New Paltz’s virtual ‘Poem In Your Pocket’ event shows that even with COVID-19 art will still prosper. There are ways for people to improvise and reimagine what the event once was in order to create something new and just as fabulous. Thank you to Chrissy O’Grady and the Sojourner truth for hosting these amazing opportunities for creatives to share their work. Make sure to check out all of the poems published on the Library’s website for some inspiration if you too want to participate in the ‘Poem In Your Pocket’ day this year.