Poetry Project to showcase student work around campus

Professor Patricia Clark

Nicole Lamson

Professor Patricia Clark

Josh Brunsting

In a collaborative effort, the first ever Grand Valley State University Poetry Project will place student penned pieces of poetry in various places around campus.

An effort involving Housing, the Department of Writing and the director of Galleries and Collections at GVSU, the project will allow various students to have their work shown as if they had their own gallery exhibits at several locations around GVSU’s Allendale Campus.

“It was an idea between Andy Beachnau of Housing and Henry Matthews, the Director of Galleries and Collections,” said GVSU Poet-in-Residence Patricia Clark. “This project is meant to help students get their pieces read as much as we humanly can.”

Clark, whose own work has been seen in various outlets such as The Atlantic Monthly, Slate and the Seattle Review, said she hopes to bring a feeling of an art gallery showing to these various pieces.

“Projects like this are important because it gives a public aspect to student writing,” she said. “It is very much like publication. It adds a professional touch to writing and shows students that they might strive for in the future.”

Clark, along with the three creators, hope not only to help these students get their work read, but also to spark a bit of a competition between students.

“We are currently working out details to find a way to somehow ‘jury’ the work,” Clark said. “It would be judged absolutely anonymously, but the best works should be, and hopefully will be able to be, rewarded.”

However, this project was not envisioned solely for the purpose of creating competition.

“We want students to have a great access to all forms of poetry,” said Sean Prentiss, an assistant writing professor. “We want them to think about poetry, to discuss poetry, to question if they like it or dislike it, to read a line or a stanza while eating a meal or waiting outside a professor’s office or while waiting for their girlfriend to come back from the gym.”

Prentiss, an award-winning poet, has high hopes for this project.

“The long term idea is to have poems from students, from faculty, from published poets scattered across campus,” he continued. “We might frame a poem. We might paint a poetry line across a wall. We might try to etch (or use stickers) a line of a poem into glass. So far, we have two pieces of poetry hung on campus, and each year we hope to add two pieces through this project.”

Currently there is no timetable for the project to begin. For more information on how to get involved with this project, contact Henry Matthews’ office.

“This is a fantastic project, and I hope as many people as we can have come out and show us their work,” Clark said. “If you are a constantly writing poet, or one who just fancies a few lines here and there, there is no reason to not submit a piece.”

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