Throughout the month of April, Roger Williams University will hold its 13th annual celebration of National Poetry Month.
In 1996, the Academy of American Poets first created National Poetry Month in order to recognize the accomplishments of poets and encourage widespread engagement with poetry. The organization now calls the month “the largest literary celebration in the world.”
Renee Soto, an associate professor of creative writing, has helped to coordinate RWU’s Poetry Month festivities each year, often collaborating with various other departments and organizations on campus such as Multicultural Student Union; the Department of Modern Languages, Philosophy, and Classics; Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences (FCAS); and the Poetry Slam.
As a professor, Soto finds that class visits with poets are particularly enriching experiences for students, calling these interactions “key components” of RWU’s National Poetry Month programming.
“Students often remark about how ‘normal’ and ‘everyday’ our visiting poets are,” Soto said. “It seems to be a sort of ‘news’ to them.”
Prior to the official start of National Poetry Month, poet Julie Funderburk kicked off the celebration with a reading and book signing session on March 30.
Upcoming Poetry Month events will include the Poetry Slam on April 6, a reading and signing with poet Rosalynde Vas Dias on April 10, and presentations from the Class of 2017 BFA candidates on April 25.
In addition to double majoring in creative writing and communications, sophomore Marissa Peloso works as a FIT intern for RWU’s Department of English and Creative Writing, where she is involved in coordinating the Poetry Month events.
“National Poetry Month fosters creativity in all of us when we attend one of the events,” Peloso said. “Students at RWU don’t have to be poets in order to attend a poetry reading or the Poetry Slam, because anyone can relate to the topics or issues being talked about in the form of poetry.”
Nicole Andreson, a sophomore and fellow FIT intern for the Department of English and Creative Writing, will also work behind the scenes for National Poetry Month in addition to participating in the Poetry Slam.
Overall, Andreson views Poetry Month as an opportunity for all students to see the world in a new perspective.
“It’s good to broaden your horizons and see what poets have to say about things, because they likely see things in a way you yourself might not have considered,” Andreson said.
She continued, “I also think that students should be writing their own poetry, if they have ever been interested. It can be very cathartic to get your words on a page, and it can be very rewarding to get to share those words with your peers.”