Resilient poets gathered and scattered throughout Kogan Plaza and Gelman Library, battling treacherous rain and fire alarms, hoping to sprinkle just one more piece of art onto the lives of passers-by on the afternoon of April 14.
In celebration of April being National Poetry Month, students of English Professor Jennifer Chang split into various groups, each assigned with a miniature project for the day. After a hectic start, with the group getting kicked out of their original meeting location on account of a fire alarm, the students set up shop, which included a typewriter and a woven basket, on the steps of Kogan Plaza, only to be chased out by a massive rainfall. Chang and her students, however, were not going to let a few minor mishaps get in the way of their mission to bring poetry to this dreary Monday-stricken campus.
One group of students served as the “Rent-A-Poet” group, writing a poem on the spot for anyone who requested.
“They can suggest an idea or ask for a random poem,” freshman Margot Hoffman said. “It can be to give to their girlfriend, their boyfriend, or the person they hate the most – just something to leave with or how they’re feeling that day.”
Requested topics ranged from a student’s mother, to an umbrella, to the Rented Poet’s definition of a tragedy. Sophomore Brendan Kiviat churned out poem after poem on Chang’s typewriter.
Junior Alex Whisnant was certainly happy to have encountered these poets.
“It’s midterms slash finals slash life, so I needed a poem about happiness and joy,” Whisnant said. “It reinforces the fact that poetry can have a huge effect on people and has the potential for shaping and influencing how people feel.”
Another group attempted to post the class’ favorite poems in the elevators of Gelman, while the third group approached students and faculty walking by to ask them to donate a word. The donated words were placed in the woven basket, and were to be later used to create one giant poem.
“I think it’s a great idea,” poetry student and junior Zacharo Gialamas said. “I do believe that not a lot of people appreciate poetry. So why not? It’s fun.”