The early spring breeze in April brings forth not only new plants and nature, but also the bloom of poetry. April is National Poetry Month in the United States, and Concord Academy celebrates it as well. Holding an annual event, Poetry Club and the English Department collaborate throughout the month to offer students a platform to share and discuss poetry. The social distancing this year did not erase people’s passion for poetry at all. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty members continued to host activities that occurred in previous years, and even added more events to allow people to learn more about poetry.
Nick Hierbert, Sabrina Sadique, and Nancy Boutiler kicked off the month with a community meeting where they read poems aloud to the entire community. As in previous years, additional students and teachers had the opportunity to sign up to share poems as well. However, instead of posting poems on a physical bulletin board, the Poetry Club created an online bulletin where the co-heads shared a newly submitted poem each day.
“I think we as a community did well despite the logistical challenge COVID provided,” said Luka Willett ’20, one of the co-heads of the CA Poetry Club. Indeed, the CA Poetry Club and English Department arranged a variety of events to satisfy students’ love of poetry. The first activity was the “Bad Poetry Competition,” a new contest in which students had to write awful poems to win. According to Luka, he “cried, laughed, and on occasion fled in disgust and terror” when reading the poems. The winner was Jhade Harris-Squires ’20 with her piece, “Time is like corn.”
“Poetry Out Loud,” the poetry reading meeting led by students, faculty members, and poets from outside of the CA community, was also an activity initiated this year. The gathering on April 15th featured readings by Luka Willett ’20 and Juan Matos, a CA Spanish teacher and the poet laureate of Worcester, MA, among others. On April 30th, CA invited Jennifer Martelli, author of In The Year of Ferraro, as a guest poet of Wednesday’s lunchtime poetry table. On May 13th, Nancy Boutilier led the reading activity at noon as the featured poetry reader of the week. Ayres Stiles-Hall, the English Department head, also shared a video of himself reading a poem in front of the Chapel. These events prompted students to “write globally and read locally” in the manner of reading poetry aloud and exchanging well-written poetry.
Overall, CA organized meaningful activities to inspire students’ love of poetry in this eventful April. The programs significantly alleviated boredom caused by social distancing and provided people with the resources and platforms to enhance their understanding of poetry. As Luka stated, “For me, poetry month is about getting people excited about reading and writing, and because I believe we accomplished this, I think April went well.”