One of the largest literary celebrations in the world, National Poetry Month, takes place every April. In an effort to celebrate the art form, Waubonsee Community College has hosted a Poetry Out Loud event for more than half a decade in its Sugar Grove campus library. On April 13, the event took place once again.
“Once a year, we always hold this [event] during National Poetry Month,” librarian Kathleen Bartel said. “I’ve been doing it here at the Sugar Grove campus for about five or six years.”
Poetry Out Loud is an open mic event at the library, where students, staff, faculty and community members can take to the microphone to recite poetry that they have written, or recite poetry from a famous poet.
“If they want to read poems they have written, that’s encouraged,” Bartel said. “If they want to read Shakespeare sonnets … that’s encouraged, too.”
About 25 participants gathered in the Todd Library on the Sugar Grove campus April 13 to both read and hear works of poetry. Bartel even participated in the event, reading some works from Waubonsee instructor Billy Clem, who is a published poet. No one is required to submit what they are reading beforehand; they are welcome to bring whatever piece they choose.
“It is always a surprise [what people end up reading],” Bartel said of the event. “My fellow faculty member, Dan Portincaso, always ends the night reading something from a zombie poetry book, or a book called ‘The Very Worst Poems Ever Written.’ It’s kind of as the night takes us, whoever is feeling brave and wants to read. We generally don’t have any problems filling the entire hour and a half.’”
According to Bartel, the event always ends up having positive feedback, and this year was no exception.
“It is always a fun evening,” Bartel said.
In addition to the Poetry Out Loud event, there was an art exhibition at the library, featuring artwork from Waubonsee students. Guests were invited to browse the artwork, listen to some poetry and enjoy a cup of coffee and a cookie.
“I think it is important for the library to host these kinds of events because we are a community college, and we like to invite the community to be a part of what we are showcasing here,” Bartel said. “And I think poetry is something a lot of people don’t realize is a part of their everyday lives. When they listen to music, they’re listening to poetry. And, of course, it is an effort to showcase our students and staff.”