Contribute a Verse to the Library’s Community Poetry Project

Written by Lea Shull, Library Services Assistant, Downtown Main Library  

Poetry has always seemed so personal to me. I could never see myself participating in a poetry slam or any other type of public reading. I actually haven’t written any poetry in a very long time. I guess I’m even a little intimidated by poetry.  

But poetry is undeniably powerful. A person has only to open their eyes or ears to find that poetry awakened something that was stirring, all along, down in their soul. I also believe that poetry can heal. Recently, I’ve started to read poetry again, grabbing little moments here and there in a busy workday, to find a spark of inspiration, a few words to lift my spirits or help me find perspective.  

About our Community Poetry Project

For the next few months, the Downtown Main Library is asking our community members to submit original poetry centered on a particular theme each month. This is not a contest or a competition, but more of a community project. Your words could really help someone. Your words could make a difference. Even if that difference is “just” a smile in the middle of a hard day. One of your poems will be selected each week to be displayed in our Popular Library and shared on social media. The first month’s theme is HOPE. You can submit your poem to be featured by filling out this form. 

The American poet Richard Blanco’s recently published a poem, Say This Isn’t the End: A Poem for Sunday, which contains the following lines:  

“I say this might be the end we’ve always needed
to begin again. I say this may be the end
to let us hope to heal, to evolve, reach
the stars. …” 

That’s perspective we can all rally around and help build upon. Just as Robin Williams’ character John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion!” I believe we are all poetry in motion. Williams’ character then goes on to quote from Walt Whitman’s poem, O Me! O Life! 

“O Me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 

Answer. 

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” 

 Me intertwined… It’s almost as if Walt Whitman is standing here with us now in Louisville, Kentucky; in Portland, Oregon; in California’s San Joaquin Valley; or in any hospital ICU. The play, as he calls it, does go on, and we can encourage each other through sharing in our own words. We can build each other up. You may contribute a verse. So, let’s go on a journey together. 

I’ll dip my toe in with a haiku about just one of the many reasons that being back to work, at the Library, gives me hope. I love spending time in our Reading Garden, for me it’s a place of respite and renewal in the middle of all the city’s daily static. I hope you like it.  

Our cloistered garden 
Tended while unattended
Back in your good grace

Submit Your Poem

Submit your own original poem below and it may be displayed at the Downtown Main Library and shared on the Library's social media accounts!

Poetry of the Month

Poems for October's theme, Hope, will be accepted through close of business on October 23, 2020. Future themes are as follows: November is community, December is resolve, January is possibility. Submissions only accepted from ages 13 and up. * indicates a required field
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Have questions? Please email poppublicdesk@cincinnatilibrary.org  or call 513-369-7894.
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