Mel Cort ’23
Poetry is believed to be older than written language itself. The genre has been celebrated for millennia, with more than fifty different forms and styles emerging over time. Mercersburg prides itself on its involvement in poetry’s history, with prized poets among its alumni body and the forthcoming thirtieth volume of Blue Review. April is National Poetry Month, and campus is awash in poetry-themed events.
Michele Poacelli, English department head and director of the writing center, is the poet behind this month’s programming. The celebration kicked off with a reading and school meeting in early April during which Poacelli shared the integral role poetry plays in our culture and the creative outlet it provides: “Poetry is an invitation to be present, and it requires you to see something ordinary differently and with an admirable mindfulness.” The school community heard from a range of student poets and reciters, with pieces from Carina Cole ‘22, Isonah Dlodlo ‘23, Mel Cort ‘23, and a recitation from Jasmine Zhu ‘23.
Next, a haiku contest was opened to students, faculty, and faculty families, featuring submissions to Blue Review. Poacelli said, “Haiku is a shorter form, which is more digestible for more poets. I don’t love the notion of a contest, but that frame encourages people to get involved.” The event challenges community poets to test their ability by maintaining the three-line, 5-7-5 syllable count of the ancient poetic form. “Sometimes, in restriction, we allow creativity and talent,” Poacelli tells her Art of Poetry class.
Poetry month also allowed the celebration of students’ poetic accomplishments, such as the recent Poetry Out Loud competition. Zhu placed third in the regional competition with a perfect recitation score for her performance of Walt Whitman and Carl Dennis pieces. Blue Review, which houses some of Mercersburg’s best student poetry, was recognized with a Crown Award for outstanding achievement by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Mercersburg’s beloved Spoken Word returned Friday, April 29. “Spoken Word represents the culmination of poetic and literary effort from our community,” said Avo Reid. “Everyone should come out for the stunning work, the opportunity to support your peers, and our great hosts.” On the beautifully decorated porch of Irvine, students enjoyed poetry, music, prose, and comedy from their peers and hosts Mel Cort ‘23, Finn Sipes ‘22, and Avo Reid ‘22. “Spoken word is always a blast,” Reid pointed out, “and so is poetry. Poetry sets my soul on fire.”