National Poetry Month celebrates diverse poets

J’Mari HughesReporter

April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate Buley Library has a display on the first floor featuring dozens of famous books from poets like Langston Hughes and Stephen Fry.

National Poetry Month began in 1996 and was founded by The American Academy of Poets to help people appreciate poetry and get support for it, according to Winnie Shyam, English librarian and head of reference.

Shyam brought the idea to Southern in 2014 after deciding that, with the university celebrating Women’s History and Black History months, Poetry Month should be appreciated as well. She said most libraries in the country celebrate it as it is one of the most popular literary events.

“It really inspires [students] and they get to learn about poetry,” Shyam said. “If they don’t know some of the famous poets in the U.S., they’ll get to be able to learn and to see different kinds of poetry.”

The display features a wide variety of book types from children’s to adult’s, from British to American and from war to western themes, all coming straight from the library’s selection of books. There is also an easel with magnetic words for students to arrange into original poems.

“If you want something fun to do, you don’t want to study in the library,” Shyam said, “or if you just wanna see what we have, it’s a good way to look at the collection.” The exhibit displays a poetry themed banner and poster, both designed by junior and public health major, Mariah Villanova. She said she was inspired by her childhood teacher who created a poetry tree where students would put a poem on each branch, and she got the earthy color scheme from the colors of the library. Her favorite poet, she said, is Maya Angelou, whom she called inspiring.

“I love how she talks about certain scenarios in a raw form, but it makes so much sense and it helps her audience connect,” Villanova said.

She said that because college students often have a lot to do, poetry can be a therapeutic way to release frustrations, whether it be by writing or reading it.

“It gives students a chance to express themselves,” she said, “and reminds them we have these types of resources where we can express differently whether with art or whether with writing.”

Business librarian Diane Tomasku said she wants students to see the library as more than just books and realize that they are available for more than just what may be “boring stuff.” It was nice, she said, to see students stopping by the display and not just professors and administration.

“The library isn’t all work,” she said. “You can relax and you can enjoy the literature without it having to be another assignment.”

Tomasku said in looking through the poetry students may get something out of it and therefore become interested in learning more about the author or poet. It gives them, she said, a leisurely opportunity to see what Southern’s library has to offer.

“It’s nice to have something that is pleasant to be reading,” she said. “Just the diversity of it— there’s a number of different kinds of poets out there.”

Photo Credit: J’Mari Hughes

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