Published: April 7, 2020
Graphic of an open book with the words Celebrate National Poetry Month with us by creating something collaborative, strange, playful and surprising.

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

 —Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia,” misquoting Francis Bacon

Right now many of us are finding comfort, and even hope, in the words of others through music, television, film, novels, essays and poetry. Why not create some hope of our own and at the same time, celebrate National Poetry Month together? Enter Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices! This activity has its origins in the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse game. The game is necessarily collaborative, requiring 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 and work that a single author could not have imagined.

Virtual Exquisite Hope will be just as fun and it’s easy to anonymously contribute! While at first you’ll be unaware of the contributions of your co-authors, once you submit your contribution you’ll be able to view the entire poem in its current state. At the end of April we’ll gather the full poem and publish it online.

We suggest following the format: adjective, noun, verb, adjective noun. By way of example, here are a few lines crafted by your librarians: 

Slow spiders climb shiny faucets.

In a lazy chair, sleep deep. Thunder.

Purple mouth speaks daisy chains.

Real windows shine steep mountains.

Languorous dogs appreciate dirt baths.

Even though we may be far apart, we are excited to see what we can create together using our many voices. To participate, please submit your words by April 27

Exquisite Hope: One Poem, Many Voices is sponsored by the CU Boulder University Libraries Arts & Humanities Department and Teaching & Learning Unit.