Since 1996, April has been designated National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poetry through greater awareness and public engagement. Your library can support and highlight National Poetry Month in a variety of ways, which can serve as a fun way to engage your 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 and hashtag it as #nationalpoetrymonth too. Select winners to receive gift cards or swag items from the library.
Organize Twitter Poetry Contest
Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit,” and a 280-character limit can make for some 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 too. You may also consider showcasing poets and writers from multicultural backgrounds.
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 a fun way to see people’s expressions and writings in a more hands-on format than the social media contest 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 an interesting 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 refreshment. Make sure to set up a table to showcase your library’s poetry books and magazines during the event. These poetry jams can also occur monthly and focus on different themes.