On Thursday, April 11, Sinclair held a “Poem in Your Pocket” reading in the Library Loggia as part of the Sinclair Talks series.
The reading took place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and allowed students and staff to share some of their favorite poems by reading them out loud before an audience of literature students, poetry lovers and others who stopped by to listen.
The event was informal and the mic was open to anyone who wanted to go up and read.
April is National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day was started in April of 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City.
It became a nationwide event, with the idea being to carry a poem with you throughout the day and share it with others.
The reading was introduced by Kate Geiselman, who, after introductions, handed the mic over to eager staff and students wanting to share.
One thing that was distinctly noticeable was the extremely short pauses between readers in the first twenty or so minutes of the reading; so many wanted to share their poems, whether it be a favorite of theirs or a poem they wrote themselves.
A few had their poems memorized, speaking not only with their voice, but with their hand gestures, body language and their eyes.
Some staff members came up to the mic and read their selected poems as well. Poems from authors such as Safire Rose, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Rita Mae Brown, Langston Hughes and Maggie Nelson were read aloud as well.
The diverse messages that spun into the ears of the audience members varied from love, agony, regret, gratitude and power. Some were getting things off of their chest—heartaches and struggles that sometimes only words can tend to.
One man read two poems he had written about his experience with addiction and the road to recovery. His stirring words revealed the truth many don’t know of, exposing the reality many addicts face.
Other poems were influential and defiant. One recited a poem by Langston Hughes called “Let America be America Again,” which was written in 1936.
“We, the people, must redeem the land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain—All, all the stretch of these great green states—And make America again!” boomed the young man who recited the poem passionately.
The first poem to be recited at the event was similarly powerful and moving. It was titled “She Let Go” by Safire Rose.
“No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go,” read the staff member who recited the poem.
A few selected poems were also read in other languages. One reader recited a poem he selected by a Papua New Guinea poet. He first read it in Tok Pisin (the official language there) and then again in English.
Another poem, which was about a child’s love for their mother, was read in French by a young woman who read it again in English.
It reminded those in the room that we are all not of one place nor of one time, but we are all human. We feel very similar things for very different reasons, and poetry allows these ideas and feelings to be shared and related to.
That is the beauty of poetry; it’s the bridge to all of these very diverse but very human worlds.