Since 1996, April has been designated National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poetry through greater awareness and public engagement. Your library's participation in this annual observance can serve as a fun way to engage students and cultivate the type of interactive relationships essential for first year success initiatives and more. Here are a few activities to consider:
- Launch a Book Spine Poetry Contest - The library has many books with interesting, creative and thought-provoking titles. Stacked atop each other, they can create a poem, haiku, or poetic line. Add a digital component by asking students to showcase their book spine poems on social media. Select winners to receive gift cards or swag items from the library. Share the entries far and wide using the popular #nationalpoetrymonth hashtag.
- Organize Twitter Poetry Contest - Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit,” and a 280-character limit can make for some pretty witty poetry. Sponsor a poetry contest on Twitter, where students write their own poems and submit them by including a unique hashtag or tagging your library’s page.
- Create Poetry Book Displays - Showcase your poetry collections, particularly if you have teaching faculty who have published their poems too. This is a great way to celebrate haikus, lyrics, ballads, and elegies. You may also consider showcasing poets and writers from multicultural backgrounds.
- Poetry Wall - If you have an open wall space or white board in the library, you can encourage students to write or share their favorite poems throughout the month. It’s fun to see people’s expressions and writings in a more in-person and hands-on format than the social media contests above.
- Host a Poetry Jam - This week, my library partnered with a campus group to host a Poetry Jam, open to all who wanted to attend or perform. It was a great opportunity to meet fellow students who were interested in hearing different poems and performances. Potential collaboration partners include the English Department, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (or a similar office), or student clubs. Having students sign up to perform in advance goes a long way in helping you and the organizers manage the event efficiently. Hand out swag from the library to participants, and be sure to provide refreshments. Make sure to set up a table showcasing your library’s poetry books and magazines. These poetry jams can also occur monthly and focus on different themes.
These are some simple activities that you may create to engage with your community and celebrate National Poetry Month. If you have other ideas, please consider sharing them in the comment space below!