Off the Shelf Poetry Event Brings Out Hidden Talents

Misha Khan

On April 6, Swisher Library held its annual Off the Shelf Poetry Event and Luncheon in honor of the National Poetry Month as well as the School Library Month. The event took place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the front lawn of Swisher Library. The event was co-sponsored by TRIO Student Support Services.

The National Poetry Month started in 1996 and takes place every April to celebrate poetry as a vital part of American culture. The Poetry Event was also helped by Poetry magazine that donated free copies to be given out to the participants. Also, every April as part of the American Association of School Librarians, libraries nationwide are encouraged to hold activities to bring students and teachers together.

The event was open mic and JU students and employees were allowed to go up when they pleased and read any piece of suitable literature. The open mic sessions welcomed more pieces than just poetry short skits, such as music, mime, stand-up comedy, and much more. The open mic sessions took place during lunchtime and free lunch was provided to all those who attended. TRIO Student Support Services were on hand to provide the feast that included picnic snacks such as hot dogs, chips and soda.

The poems that were recited were personal and some of them written by the students and faculty themselves. Whether short or simple, or long and in-depth, the self-written poems described not only the poet but gave the audience a different view of literature; it could be anything expressive.

Jody Kamens, the Learning Center coordinator at Swisher Library, was one of the organizers of the event and said she truly enjoys listening to other people’s creative sides especially since it takes a lot to get up in front of everybody like that.

“It is a student activity that really brings people together out here,” Kamens said. “With all these poets around, I like listening to their creativity and we always want to encourage that.”

The audience was indeed interested in what everyone had to say which was evident from their participation. There were pieces from Edgar Ellen Poe, Dr. Suess, Jack Politski, self-written ones and even a little something from the Bible and Qur’an.

David Jones, another organizer of the event and the director of Swisher Library, is a poet himself who has written dozens of pieces.

“It is student participation and everybody enjoys performance,” Jones said. “You know it is not a class and it isn’t graded so they are more excited about it.”

For freshman Taylor Agnew the event was quite an interesting experience.

“I have never been to something like this so it was very surprising to see what people said,” Agnew said.

All in all the Poetry Event was a lunch-well-spent listening to fellow JU students bring out their creative and literary side. The crowd was awake, loud, and cheerful, especially when a TRIO member decided to rap the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.