UST Libraries present 10th annual Poetry on the Patio tomorrow

UST Libraries present 10th annual Poetry on the Patio tomorrow

From UST Libraries

The university community is invited to the terrace of O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center at noon tomorrow, Tuesday, April 29, to listen to colleagues from across the campus read selections by their favorite authors.

In 1997, the then Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Pinsky, founded the Favorite Poem Project, which was designed to encourage and celebrate the importance of poetry in Americans' lives.

The project was founded on the belief that poems are meant to be said out loud. "If a poem is written well, it was written with a poet's voice and for a voice," Pinsky says. "Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music or actually humming or playing the music on an instrument."

The following year, the UST Libraries began what has become an annual event where members of the St. Thomas community are invited to stand up and read or recite a poem that has special meaning for them.

The first Poetry on the Patio reading was organized by Kirsten Dierking, then a member of the libraries' staff and an accomplished poet. This year, the event will celebrate its 10th anniversary on the St. Thomas campus.

Since 1999, more than 100 readers from UST have stood and shared a poem with the audience on the "front porch of the library." The reading has been held outside for eight of the nine previous years.

Readers have come from all walks of life at UST and have provided evidence that what Robert Pinsky believed was actually true – that Americans read and love poetry. The reading has been something of a potluck in which readers chose the poems without guidance from anyone. Somehow, like a good potluck, there has always been a healthful mix of vegetables, main courses and desserts.

Poets represented in the readings have ranged from Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot to W. B. Yeats, Sharon Olds, Mark Strand, Billy Collins, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Wilfred Owen and many others. The library will produce a bibliography of all the poems read during the first 10 years of this event and make it available on its Web page following this week's reading.

With the help of Web and Media Services, UST Libraries also will create a video showing highlights of the 10 readings (all of the readings have been videotaped) and will make that available from its Web page as well.