Third Annual “Poem in Your Pocket” Virtual Event at the Library

“Poem In Your Pocket” selections are featured on the “tornado feature” of the Sojourner Truth library website. Library website photo

April is National Poetry Month, and on April 15, Sojourner Truth Library released its third annual “Poem In Your Pocket” virtual event live on its Instagram page and website. , research and education librarian Chrissy O’Grady led the event the entire time it was virtual. When asked why she is still doing this in these unprecedented times, O’Grady said, “I think it’s important to showcase creativity and expression through poetry and by writing. This is especially important with the pandemic and the added stress of living through it. I hope the event will be seen as a community event where everyone can submit and share their words.

Although this is the third year the event has been virtual, the library has been celebrating the spirit of National Poetry Month for the past few years. In the past, they posted submissions on old card catalogs and were on display in the library, but now, due to the pandemic, the library had to find a new way to continue hosting their event.

Now you can log into the library’s website and be taken to a page with an interactive search engine that the library calls its “tornado feature.” This feature allows viewers to browse some of the submitted poems in a fun and visually stimulating way. If you want to discover more or all of the poems, the 62 virtual poems are also published online.

As mentioned earlier, this event was not just restricted to students, but welcomed submissions from faculty, staff, and members of the New Paltz community. The event was a great way to bring the community together and incorporate so many creative voices from the region. Many different people got involved and submitted great work.

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 interested people posted in March. Angelique Santiago, a second year in the adolescent education program, explained, “My friend sent me an Instagram message from the library about ‘Poem in Your Pocket’. It was kind of an impulsive thing and I looked in my poetry folder on Google Docs and submitted one. Santiago’s poem, “Honesty,” is a beautiful piece that shows vulnerability in every line. The narrator is not only being honest with the person on the other end who hurt him, but he also feels like he is finally being honest with himself.

When asked how they felt when their work was published and visible on the website, the students who participated in the event were all thrilled and happy that this opportunity was available.

“It really feels good to know that there’s a desire to include student voices on campus,” said Erma-Lee Williams, an early childhood education major and black studies minor. “I think by including and amplifying student creativity, it makes poetry and creative writing more accessible.” Williams penned an adorable poem that acts as an ode to a crush that gives you “heart eyes.”

“It feels good to know it’s on the library’s website,” said another participant, Jennifer Poroye, a second-year music student. “It’s nice to just be able to share your creative work and writing with others in general, so I’m glad the library did that and gave me a chance to share it with others.”

True 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 thrive. There are ways for people to improvise and reimagine what the event was like in order to create something new and equally fabulous. Thanks to Chrissy O’Grady and Truth Sojourner for hosting these amazing opportunities for creatives to share their work. Be sure to check out all the poems posted on the library’s website for inspiration if you too want to take part in Poem in Your Pocket Day this year.

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