Poetry@Tech observes National Poetry Month

Poetry@Tech kicked off their month-long celebration of poetry with an event detailing the history of their club. Their mission is to ‘share the craft and the beauty of poetry’ with Tech and beyond. // Photo by Knox Lingenfelter Student Publications

April marks the celebration of National Poetry Month, a time when poets enthusiasts come together to honor the impact of poetry on their lives. At Tech, the organization Poetry@Tech takes the spotlight during this month-long celebration with a plethora of engaging activities and events.

To gain further insight into the event, the Technique interviewed Literature, Media, and Communication professor Victoria Chang, Director of the Poetry@Tech Program and Margaret T. and Henry C. Bourne Chair. In her capacity on campus, Chang plays a key role as the coordinator with the help of her colleague, Associate Director Travis Denton. Additionally, Denton is a poet, editor of Terminus, Poetry@Tech’s literary magazine and an esteemed
veteran at Poetry@Tech.

“So one of the great things about Georgia Tech is that it’s a technical school, right? But one of the really cool things is that people had the vision beforehand. The Bourne family and also Bruce McEver, some early supporters, had the vision to start a poetry attack. And so, we do these readings, as part of Poetry@Tech, so we bring in all these poets from all over the place,” Chang said.

After asking Chang about her involvement in Poetry@Tech, she recounted a particularly gratifying question that solidified her reason for planning activities around poetry. She reflected on her motivation, expressing the desire to bring language to individuals who might not attend their readings. Chang imagined blanketing Tech’s campus with language and poetry, hoping to provide transformative moments to everyone on campus, even if just for a split second, to those who encounter it during their day.

Chang further explored the activities of National Poetry Month in detail, shedding light on the collaborative efforts behind Poetry@Tech’s initiatives.

Chang detailed their collaborative efforts with the communications department at the Ivan Allen College, leading to an array of initiatives aimed at promoting poetry on campus. They embarked on brainstorming sessions that culminated in several activities, including the distribution of yard signs featuring snippets of poetry and quotes, aimed at providing a glimpse into the essence of poetry — a concept Chang admits is “endlessly inexplicable.” This initiative also featured “pause for poetry” segments, further exploring poetry’s indefinable nature. 

As part of these early endeavors, the yard signs stood out as a significant element on Tech’s campus. Additionally, the celebration of poetry will peak with a reading event scheduled for April 18, featuring three poets. 

Besides these efforts, the program also hosts a variety of other engagements designed to facilitate creativity with language. One method of spreading their message is leveraging social media platforms to encourage student participation in poetry readings and discussions about personal interpretations of poetry. 

The initiative also includes activities organized by the creative writing club, like open mic sessions, and the broadcasting of poems through the media bridge, complemented by recordings.

 All of these efforts are designed to provide the campus community with language and poetry on a daily basis.

“So we put out approximately 100 yard signs. And so that was, you know, really, really fun. And I think people have seen them around so that’s a good thing because I’ve been getting some notes and things like that from people,” Chang said.

On April 18 Poetry@Tech is hosting a poetry reading featuring three acclaimed poets. Chang made it clear that each poet that is selected is properly vetted before inviting them to Poetry@Tech.

“We have Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Phillips, Jessica Tanck, who is a first-book poet and winner of the Georgia Poetry Award, and Sam Sax, known for his dynamic spoken word poetry background,” Chang said.

Chang emphasized the diversity and talent represented by each poet, showcasing a range of styles and experiences within the literary landscape. The event includes a poetry performance workshop led by Sam Sax at 11 a.m. in the Arts at Tech lobby, followed by the reading at 7 p.m. in the Cypress Theater and a reception at 6 p.m. 

Chang highlighted the collaborative nature of Poetry@Tech’s events, which fosters partnerships across campus and welcomes participation from the community. 

According to Chang, these readings typically draw a significant audience, with up to 250 attendees, reflecting the widespread interest and support for poetry within and beyond the Tech community.

The journey through National Poetry Month with Poetry@Tech, as Chang explains it, “illuminates the profound impact of poetry on the Georgia Tech community. The approach to teaching poetry at Georgia Tech has evolved, offering a broader understanding of art’s significance in our lives.” 

To support this, Chang’s advocacy for artificial intelligence’s collaboration with poetry tackles arguments against dehumanizing poetry.

“By nurturing open and creative minds, we equip ourselves to tackle the complex challenges of the future. Indeed, poetry and technology, with its transformative power, have the capacity to change the world, one verse at a time. As we continue our journey beyond National Poetry Month, let us carry forth this spirit of openness and appreciation for the arts, enriching both our lives and the world around us,” Chang said.

Her hope for an open-minded embrace of all forms of art, including poetry, resonates as a call to integrate creativity into the personal and professional
spheres of the Institute.