Class chalks poems to mark beginning of National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, a national celebration of poetry by the Academy of American Poets, which was established in 1996 as an act of Congress in conjunction with the Library of Congress.

During NPM, the academy hopes to achieve an increase in the visibility, presence and accessibility of poetry in our culture.

This is accomplished at Northern Kentucky University by chalking poems on campus, which was an idea from the academy. Mari York, an English professor, had her students chalk their original poems or works from poets like Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg.

“It’s a way of showing people that poetry is also art. It has function in space outside of the page; people sometimes forget that about poetry,” York said.

The chalking has raised controversy due to the Free Expression Policy, but it’s something York’s students have done for five years.

Aside from chalking, York’s Intro to Literature class will celebrate NPM by publicly reading its poetry on campus every Wednesday, culminating with a reading the last Wednesday in April.

“It’s a way of celebrating a genre that’s kind of a poor stepchild to fiction in our country,” York said.

Another one of York’s classes will be passing out fortune cookies while reading haikus this week.

According to Dr. John Alberti, Frank X. walker will the Writer in Residence at NKU next year. During that time, he will teach poetry writing classes. Walker will be speaking sometime during NPM on campus.

Walker is the author of “Black Box.” He is an Affrilachian poet, a term he created, which celebrates people’s African heritage in the Appalachian region. Alberti said Affrilachian poetry spans racial and ethnic categories.

Andrew Miller is the adviser for NKU Expressed and The Licking River Review, magazines edited by students. The NKU Express contains poems from NKU students only, and any student can submit them. The Licking River Review contains 25 percent of poems from NKU.

“Poetry should be important to everyone,” Miller said.

He said there was recently a creative writing contest for which an award ceremony will be held April 26.