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A Way With Words

May 12, 2011

According to the Academy of American Poets, April is affectionately known as “Poetry Month.” But BMCC had another idea.

“We at BMCC decided to extend poetry month to May,” explained English professor Marguerite Rivas.

In celebration of Poetry Month, BMCC’s newly minted Sculpture Club, guided by Professor Sarah Haviland of the Music and Art Department, teamed up with the Poetry Month Committee to create a public art project.

The blue, papier-mâché  “Poet Tree,” was eight feet tall and hand-constructed by the Sculpture Club. The tree made its debut in the college’s main entrance lobby on May 3rd, and remained there for one week.

Poem in your pocket

Over the years, members of the Poetry Month Committee have collected small poems to distribute to BMCC students and staffers during Poetry Month, so they can have a “Poem in Their Pocket,” part of a national campaign aimed at generating awareness about the power of poetry.

A variety of poems served as “the leaves” for the Poet Tree—most of the poems on display were personal favorites of the Poetry Month Committee.

“The poems hanging from the tree represent a poem in your pocket and a song in your heart,” said Rivas at an open-mic forum, where members of the BMCC community were invited to read a poem aloud near the Poet Tree.

Spoken word

Rivas described herself as both “a poet and a professor,” and read some a few of her own works, some of which was inspired by 9/11.

Michael Gillespie, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, read The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost, a poem he described as “an old favorite.”

Student Sedgrieck Jacob performed two raps he wrote, one titled, “Damn, I Wonder.”

“I enjoy writing my own poetry on the side,” he said, citing writers Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou as influences.

Professor Gay Brooks of the Developmental Skills department read a poem hanging from the Poet Tree titled This Is Just to Say (For William Carlos Williams) by Erica Lynn Gambino.

Liberal Arts major Helena Kincaid was walking through the lobby when she noticed the open-mic. She decided to read a poem she wrote for her philosophy class called “Endlessly Falling.”

“I just happened to have the poem on me, noticed the open-mic, and thought, oh, what the heck, I’ll share mine,” said Kincaid. The aspiring filmmaking “loved” Professor Matthew Ally’s philosophy class…so, she decided to write about it.

“I’ve been writing my whole life, but getting into it more,” she said. “It’s a great outlet for me to express how I feel about anything and everything.”

The Poet Tree project at BMCC was co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs under the guidance of Dean Michael Gillespie and the Department of Music and Art.

“The project’s tree theme follows in a global tradition in art in which trees serve as metaphors of growth, spiritual centering, and knowledge,” said Professor Haviland.

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  • Sculpture Club created a Poet Tree that remained in the lobby for one week
  • BMCC community encouraged to share their favorite literary works
  • Poetry Month raises awareness about the influence of poems

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