“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops - at all,"
—Emily Dickinson, #314
Last spring, we found ourselves in a new and uncertain world. In subsequent months we endured many hardships both individually and collectively—challenges so deeply transformative that the world now appears different to all of us.
In 2020 we celebrated National Poetry Month together with a collaborative project called “Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices.” Over eighty members of our communities contributed lines to the final poem.
Now, we invite you to celebrate National Poetry Month 2021. By recreating this project for a new year, we can remind ourselves that small acts of creativity and community connection remain incredibly meaningful as we move forward together.
This type of collaborative poem shares its origins with the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse game. The game requires multiple participants and is traditionally played with paper and pen. One player writes down a word or phrase and then folds the paper to hide their contribution before passing it to the next player. The result is poetry of chance.
Virtual Exquisite Hope is just as fun, and it’s easy to anonymously contribute! While at first, you’ll be unaware of your co-authors’ contributions, once you submit your contribution you’ll be able to view the entire poem in its current state. At the end of National Poetry Month, the libraries will publish the poem, in its entirety, online.
We suggest following the format: adjective, noun, verb, adjective-noun. By way of example, here are a few lines crafted by your librarians:
Printed leaves perform vivid blue.
Small grooves mark solitude in time.
Quiet dew fetches shadows of growth.
We find hope in poetry and community. We are excited to see what we can create together using our many voices. To participate, please contribute by April 30.
“Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices” is sponsored by the University Libraries' Learning & Engagement Team.