Published: May 12, 2020

In April, to celebrate National Poetry Month and to offer our community an opportunity for collective expression during this most challenging of times, the University Libraries invited members of the CU Boulder community to contribute verses, anonymously, to write a collective poem. We are now pleased to share with you the resulting poem, “Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices.” 

We are delighted that 77 authors contributed verses. Recently, a group of our libraries personnel gathered together by Zoom to perform the poem in its entirety.

The readers, in order of appearance, were Cynthia Keller, Amanda Rybin Koob, Daniel Johnston, Kathia Ibacache, Rachel Knapp, Claire Woodcock, Curt Williams and Courtney McDonald.

“The contributions were more stunning than we could have imagined,” Head of the Teaching & Learning Unit Caroline Sinkinson said. “The readers were thrilled to give voice to these moving words from our community.”

The Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse game inspired “Exquisite Hope”. Typically played with a pen and paper, participants write down a word or phrase and fold the paper to conceal their contribution before passing it on to the next author. The resulting poem, written purely by chance, offers surprises and art no single author could anticipate.

Watch and read along with the Libraries' “Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices” performance below.