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Library poetry slam marks National Poetry Month

By Hope Loman

Rowan Public Library

April is National Poetry Month, defined on its official website, Poets.org, as “the largest literary celebration in the world … marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives every April.”

Amongst its many goals, National Poetry Month strives to highlight the legacy and achievement of American poets, encourages others to read poetry, and helps teachers incorporate poetry into their classroom.

Since 2013, Rowan Public Library has held its own event in honor of National Poetry Month — the annual Teen Poetry Slam. At the program, aspiring poets between the ages of 11 and 17 can perform three original poems in front of a panel of judges to win prizes.

Because these poetry events trace their roots back to the Beat poetry movement and readings at Chicago jazz clubs, it’s no surprise that the performance at a slam is just as important as the poem itself — enthusiasm and emotion carry equal weight to content or style.

Since the late 1990s, young poets of diverse backgrounds have been attracted to this theatrical format, bringing new life to the national poetry scene as they perform on relevant topics like politics, racial injustice and current events. Likewise, at RPL’s slam, poems can be on any subject as long as the topic of the poem and the language used is appropriate for all ages.

For those who are interested in participating in the poetry slam, registration can be done online through the Rowan Public Library web page, or by sending an e-mail to hope.loman@rowancountync.gov.  Free and open to the public, the event will be in the Stanback Room of library headquarters on Tuesday, April 18, at 5:30 p.m.

If potential poetry slammers would like to seek inspiration before they write their entries (or if anyone of any age would like to read poems in honor of National Poetry Month), the library has  many different poetry collections and individual poets’ works.

From the young adult collection, there’s “Earth-Shattering Poems,” a collection that captures intense emotions and experiences with poems such as “Sometimes with One I Love” by Walt Whitman and “If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda.

“Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States” is a collection of poems written in both English and Spanish by young authors who write about the difficulty of straddling cultures and identities as they also celebrate the food, family and love in their lives.

“Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems” by Mel Glenn is the story of a championship team’s season told through free prose poems from different points of view. Similarly, “Girl Coming in for a Landing” by April Halprin Wayland tells the story of a year in the life of a teenage girl as she experiences all of the highs and lows of school, friendship and first love.

For those who prefer fiction, there’s “Bronx Masquerade” by Nikki Grimes, a novel written in verse that tells the story of high school students in the Bronx as they write personal poems based on the style of Harlem Renaissance writers.

“Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty” by Christine Heppermann is a collection of free verse poems based on classic fairy tale characters that range from contemporary retellings to first person accounts set in the original stories, all exploring how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies and their friends.

This is only a small sampling of all of the poetry books that are available for your reading pleasure, so make sure to check the catalog for other volumes or ask an RPL employee for help. And make sure to read and celebrate poetry all April long — perhaps even try your hand at writing some yourself.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets Tuesdays at East branch meeting room, through May 23, 5 p.m. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Dr. Who’s Days: Travel through time and space with screenings of the classic BBC program, “Dr. Who.” Families are invited to attend. Headquarters, April 11, 4:30 p.m.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on RPL’s teen programming and book selection and discuss current events and issues of interest. Members can count their hours of participation toward school community service requirements. East, April 10, 6:30 p.m.; South, April 6, 4:30 p.m.; Headquarters, April 25, 4:30 p.m.

Anime Club: Teens and college-age individuals (21 and under) are invited to watch anime and engage in Japanese-themed crafts and games. Headquarters, April 4, 4:30 p.m.

Adventure Club: April 8, 11 a.m.-noon, headquarters. Participate in adventurous, hands-on, science-based activities and projects. Programs are more suitable for children in second through fifth grades.

RPL Annual spring Photowalk: April 8, 10:30 a.m.-noon, N.C. Transportation Museum, Spencer. Join us for a walk and bring your digital camera/phone to take photos together. Meeting at the museum. To reserve your spot, contact Paul at 704-216-8242 or Paul.Birkhead@rowancountync.gov

Maker Mondays: April 10, 6-7 p.m., headquarters. See the RPL Cooperative Lab’s 3D printer in action. Learn about the process from start to finish, and witness how a 3D printer can make ideas reality.

Special PJ Storytime: April 10, 6 p.m., South Rowan Regional. Patrons who took part in the “Night at the Library”on March 27-29 will receive their free pictures and souvenirs at this special storytime event. Call 704-216-7728 for more information.

Monday, April 10, 6:30 p.m., same program at headquarters for patrons who participated on March 31-April 1. Call 704-216-8234 for more information.

Monday, April 10, 6 p.m., same program at East Branch for people who took part in the March 27-29 event. Call 704-216-7842 for more information.

Displays: Headquarters, Sexual Assault Awareness exhibit by the Family Crisis Council and national robotics display by John Deal; East, artisan jewelry by Myrtis Trexler; South, clothesline project.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

Weekly events for children run through the week of April 28.

Baby Time: Infants to 23 months. A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to infants up to 23 months old with a parent or caregiver; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Char’s Little Stars, Wednesday, 10 a.m.; East branch, Tammie’s Tiny Sprouts, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South Regional, Miss Pat’s Tiny Tots, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: 18 to 35 months. Focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills with a parent or caregiver. 30 min. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 .m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays, 11 a.m.; South, Miss Pat’s Wee Readers, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Time: To encourage the exploration of books and build reading readiness skills for children 3 to 5 years old with a parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, East and South, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Noodlehead Story Time: Books and songs for all ages; primary focus is pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; East, Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m.; South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Appropriate for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Tuesdays, 4 p.m.; South, Canvas Kids, Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7 to 9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations are recommended but not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m.; South, selected Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

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