Throughout the month of April, Lafayette will host a series of events in honor of National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month began in 1996 under the direction of the Academy of American Poets. It has since become an anticipated staple in the Lafayette academic calendar.
Poetry Month is a chance for aspiring student writers to connect with professors, alumni, and other notable poets. This year’s festivities kick off with a reading given by Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey. Other events will include an Alumni Poets Reading, a Poems in Progress exhibit, a Question-and-Answer Session with Paul Muldoon, The Jean Corrie Poetry Reading and Ice Cream Social, a New Writers Cabaret, and the H. MacKnight Black Poetry Reading. In the past these events have attracted student poetry from all majors, particularly the student showcase, the New Writers Cabaret.
This year is particularly notable because it marks the twentieth anniversary of the H. MacKnight Black Poetry Competition. In honor of this anniversary the competition reading will take place on stage in the William Center for the Arts. The judge from the original competition, Paul Muldoon, returns to judge this year as well.
Since the original competition, Muldoon has gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and is commonly known as one of the leading contemporary poets for the English language. Muldoon will also read some of his own work and host a reception and book signing. Student competition winner Jasmine Jay ‘14 and honorable mentions April Barry ‘14 and Henna Cho ‘14 will be reading their original submissions. This year’s events will also feature the return of previous contest winners, including Jennifer Torres ‘94, the original winner of the competition.
Writer-in-residence and professor of English Lee Upton describes the motivation for these events as a chance to “celebrate our student writers and allow them to meet foremost poets and showcase their work.” In light of this significant anniversary, Upton expects this year’s events to attract an especially enthusiastic and engaged crowd.