Concord University celebrates National Poetry Month

ATHENS, WV (WOAY) – April is National Poetry Month, so every day Concord University’s writing center prompts its faculty, staff and students to ‘write a haiku’ or response to a particular poem.

English professor, Dr. Michelle Gompf says Poetry Month is a good way to encourage people who like to write poetry but also expose people to it and engage with it even if they don’t write.

“And then I love teaching poetry, the emotional impact and seeing students connect with the emotion in a poem that could be centuries old and yet they can identify with it,” said the Department of Humanities chair. “So looking at Shakespeare’s sonnets (‘I recognize that feeling of being in love’) or Sappho complaining about somebody not loving her back (‘I get that’).”

Gompf’s undergrad degree was in creative writing and she specialized in poetry. As far as writing, she says poetry is a great outlet for emotions and connections that can sometimes be difficult to put into the clearest and most descriptive words.

“Avoiding cliques and being as vivid as you possibly can,” she says. “Then re-writing and re-writing and re-writing.”

W.B. Yeats is the professor’s favorite poet because of his variety of poems, some very romantic like Lake Isle of Innisfree, and The Second Coming, then things about the Irish Rebellion. But Gompf says one thing to keep in mind about poetry — it doesn’t all have to be so heavy.

“There’s something very lyrical and wonderful about his words,” she said of Yeats.

If we have to define poetry vs. fiction, the Department of Humanities chair says poetry is compact, powerful imagery, focusing more on the showing than the telling.

“Poems can be sarcastic and they can be funny and they can also be creepy and scary,” she said. “They don’t have to be these serious, deep philosophical things.

Haikus are the perfect place to start. Three lines, five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables about nature. Gompf says it can be as simple as that and recommends writing every day.

“Have an old-fashioned notebook and just write stuff down that looks cool or interesting — and then go back to it later and polish it,” said the professor. “But capture the ideas when you can.”

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