Live Poets’ Society celebrates National Poetry Month

Story by Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer, Video by Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Reporter

Students celebrated the last day of National Poetry Month and the last meeting of Baylor’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta this year through their Live Poets’ Society event on Tuesday.

The sound of poetry read aloud filled the Baines room of the Student Union Building from 5 to 6 p.m. while students listened intently, mingled and nibbled on pizza.

Austin senior Lexi Rima, the current Vice-President of Sigma Tau Delta, wanted to base her last meeting with Sigma Tau Delta on the film, Dead Poets’ Society.

“Sigma Tau Delta has been the main organization that I’ve been working with for my undergraduate career,” Rima said, “I have met so many great people who are amazing in literary regard for their love of poetry and prose and also just really wholesome, good people here at Baylor.”

Canyon senior Gordon McCormack, the Treasurer of Sigma Tau Delta, read ‘Ulysses’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson at the event.

“[It is] about the story of a Odysseus from the Odyssey when he comes home to Ithaca and he just doesn’t feel fulfilled, and so he decided to go out in his old age to still push the boundaries of human reason than to make some great adventures still happen,” McCormack said.

McCormack said that Ulysses is one of his favorite poems as well as an appropriate choice for the end of the year and the end of his journey with Sigma Tau Delta.

“I thought that was fitting for the end of the year as far as persevering, working hard on your adventures and that deciding not to yield,” McCormack said.

McCormack’s believed that his original choice of poem would have left listeners with a different feeling at the end of the Live Poets’ Society event.

“I really like Thomas Hardy, though he’s generally pretty despondent [and] pretty cynical with his poetry,” McCormack said, “I wanted to to read, ‘Hap’ by him, which I know and I’ve memorized [and] I really like, but I figured something a little more uplifting at the end of the year would be a little more apropos.”

Between performances from students and the organization’s advisors, Dr. Tara C. Foley and Dr. Nicole Kenley, a presentation played of recordings of successful poets reading their own work.

“Having the poems read aloud predominantly by the author’s themselves was sort of an idea I had in the beginning because we’re playing off the Dead Poets Society, but I didn’t want to actually restricted to only living poets,” Rima said.

Performing poetry in front of an audience was not a new feat for McCormack. He has performed for several other Sigma Tau Delta events including their Open Mic Poetry Night.

“We do events like this just about every semester. And they’re great fun, and I think we’re going to keep doing them because people always seem to really like them,” McCormack said.

The purpose of the Lambda Alpha Chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor society is to promote literature and writing as well as an opportunity for members to share their ideas and work within the subject of English.

Applications can be submitted to become a member of Sigma Tau Delta anytime next semester for the upcoming year.

McCormack said that the meeting was a sad and bittersweet goodbye to a lot of his friends and a group that he has been a part of for a long time.

“I was with Dr. Foley when we were just like eight people sitting on some couches on the fourth floor of the Carroll Science building back then, but we’ve come a long way,” McCormack said, “And I’m very proud of the group that we have today.”

Aurora, Ill. junior Sierra Raheem is one of the members who will carry on Sigma Tau Delta’s legacy as Sigma Tau Delta’s Vice-President next year.

“I decided to perform my own interpretation of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Caged Bird’ and it’s one of my favorite poems just because Maya Angelou is just a wonderful poet and she has really inspired me as not only a poet, but as a writer as well,” Raheem said.

Raheem said that she approaches reading another poet’s work in a different way in order to make sure she honors their poetry.

“Whenever I read someone else’s [poetry] that I admire, I try to be more careful in the way that I perform,” Raheem said, “I try to make sure I keep the meaning of the poem behind my reading of it, but at the same time have my own interpretation.”

Raheem was featured in KWBU’s National Poetry Month series where they interviewed four local poet’s to share their work, their inspiration and what poetry means to them.

“I talked to one of the reporters there and I was actually able to share what poetry meant to me, why I started writing poetry and shared a original poem of mine,” Raheem said.

She also performed her own poem ‘Oni’s Prayer’ on the radio and her interview and performance can still be heard on KWBU’s website.

“It was a really cool experience…seeing people who contacted and [said], ‘This is the same reason why I write poetry or your poem was really inspiring,’ and so for that very reason, It was a really exciting experience,” Raheem said.

The Academy of American Poets was inspired by the successes of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March when they established April as National Poetry Month in 1996, according to the month’s website.

Some of the goals and aspirations of National Poetry Month are to promote the reading and support of poetry, honor and highlight the legacy of poets and assist teachers with increasing interest in poetry amongst students.

“The [Live Poets’ Society] event really served its purpose well and incorporated something that I think is important to kind of kick off the ending of National Poetry month,” Rima said, “And then also just kind of relax and take a break with our peers and friends and eat pizza and get away from the finals stress for just a moment.”

Even as National Poetry Month comes to an end, the Academy of American Poets as well as Sigma Tau Delta encourages all students and readers to engage with poetry all year around rather than simply during the month of April.

In order to learn more about future events similar to the Live Poets’ Society event and the organization that made it happen, Sigma Tau Delta, check out their Instagram or Twitter @sicemtaudelta.