SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Angelo State University Department of English has taken the retail business concept of “take a penny, leave a penny” in a literary direction with a new “take a poem, leave a poem” program using a bulletin board near the department’s office in the ASU Academic Building.
“It’s a public way for readers to demonstrate their love for a poem or their desire to read a poem,” said Dr. Laurence Musgrove, English Department head. “They can take a poem with them as long as they leave another.”
The main purpose of the project is to provide poetry to ASU students and make it available in a public place with no pressure to analyze the poems or answer questions about them on a test.
“It also provides something for students to read while they are between classes or waiting for an appointment with a faculty member,” Musgrove said.
The ASU program is not really a new idea, but more of a static version of what some cities are doing with their public transportation.
“A couple of them are the ‘Poetry in Motion’ project by the New York City Mass Transit Authority and ‘Poetry on the Bus’ in Albuquerque, N.M.,” Musgrove said.
With bulletin boards liberally sprinkled throughout the ASU campus, students are used to looking at them for information. Now, on at least one of them, there is also literary art.
“As opposed to the typical bulletin board of random postings, images and words,” Musgrove said, “we have developed one at the end of the hall that’s like ‘take a penny, leave a penny,’ but based on poems.”
“So you’ll see a bulletin board that’s filled with poems that people have posted anonymously,” he added. “There are some rules about what someone can leave or can’t leave, but it’s a poetry clearinghouse and reflects people’s interests.”
ASU students, faculty, staff and visitors are all welcome to take advantage of the new program.
Those who post original poems must identify themselves, but anyone posting a favorite poem by another author may do so anonymously as long as the author is identified.
To date, most of the posted poems are one or two pages long, some are handwritten, some are copied from books and some have been retyped and posted.
Any inappropriate materials will be removed by the English Department.
“There have been a few original poems so far,” Musgrove said, “but most of them are contemporary verse. I think it reflects a renewed interest in poetry, which is really another goal of this project, to generate more awareness in the genre.”
“People like Billy Collins and other poet laureates have tried to make poetry more accessible,” he added, “and this is our contribution.”
Since many students are only exposed to poetry in their English classes, the department hopes that the easy access to poems on the bulletin board might spark student interest in writing poems as well as reading them.
“I also think of other countries where daily newspapers are posted for public viewing,” Musgrove said. “Our effort extends the gesture of welcoming and exchange, an opportunity to read poems and leave poems for others.”
While the bulletin board program is still in its infancy, initial participation has been strong enough to suggest that there is significant student interest and involvement.
“I can see that over time,” Musgrove said, “there will be layers of poems posted on the board. Then, we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Roy Ivey is a news and information specialist in the ASU Office of Communications and Marketing.
FONTE: San Angelo Standard Times