September 23, 2022

Join us Friday for a kaleidoscope of poems | Columnists

National Poetry Month slipped through my fingers this year. I’ve celebrated the past few years with great gusto with Sonnets in the Square and pop-up poetry all over town. Of course, I read poetry to myself every day, but public events have not been organized. However, the month isn’t quite over, so keep reading!

Last week my students at Trine read all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets on Tuesday, cover to cover. It was a new event for me to organize, and just for my students. I have to say it was met with a bit of chagrin when I announced it at the start of the semester.

“We are going to read all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in April. Won’t that be fun? »

Of course, this was a new group of students and I know they doubted that what was fun for me was not fun for them! I often laugh about it with them, but I am ruthless in the opportunities I give them and expect the same enthusiasm.

I ordered a new sonnet book for the occasion, sent many emails (and many conversations) to students reminding them of this event. I mean, really, how often will future engineers have the opportunity to read Shakespeare on stage? I asked them to dress in Elizabethan costume, and I think that definitely fell on deaf ears, but the words ‘business casual’ seemed to be the trend. I didn’t expect them to memorize their sonnet or two, but I really wanted them to get familiar with the words.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets were written over 400 years ago. Most of the vocabulary cannot even be found in a current dictionary, although at the time the words were used freely. Try this out loud:

“When forty winters besiege your brow

And dig deep trenches in the field of your beauty,

The proud livery of your youth, so watched now,

Will be a ragged weed of little value.

The day arrived and my students were ready, in a way. Sonnet by sonnet they went on stage to read these words of Shakespeare each under the thunderous applause of their comrades.

“Just think,” I said, “you may never have that opportunity again.”

Most of them nodded profusely to this. Yet at the same time, I was so proud of how seriously these students took Shakespeare’s work. Can you even imagine writing 154 sonnets not to mention all of his other work? Some of my students went above and beyond their “business casual” and one student, Andrew, absolutely made my day. He went out and bought a new jacket just for the occasion. He has been my most enthusiastic student this semester, in everything we do!

I closed our event by reading the latest Sonnet, number 154. I couldn’t imagine not reading! I felt deeply proud of them when I finished and closed the book. Yes, it took all day, but what a day it was.

At this point, you may be feeling a pang of jealousy. Don’t worry, I understand. Therefore, I offer you an opportunity! April 29 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day! To celebrate this event, I am partnering with The Brokaw Movie House to organize a kaleidoscope of poems. Starting at 4 p.m. we will read poetry until we are done. This is an open mic forum, so you have the great opportunity to read one of your favorite poems. Choose one of your favorite poets or read one of your own! The songs are very acceptable too!

My friend and colleague, Jacob McNeal, will be hosting the event and will no doubt read one of his favorites. I know I will do the same. There are other surprises, but I can’t tell you! Children are encouraged to come and read…we want to make sure that the love of poetry is passed on to our youngsters. Maybe you just want to come sit and listen. Please do this. Refreshments will be available for purchase for the afternoon. You might think of it like going to the movies with real live characters!

Poetry month passed me by without too much fanfare. I think we can catch up though by filling the Brokaw Movie House on Friday April 29th. Some of my students even come to read their sonnets.

See you Friday with a pocket full of poems.

Lou Ann Homan Saylor lives in Angola in the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late at night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress, and porch story collector. She can be reached at [email protected]