Walking into the Yuba College library during the month of April, you might expect to be confronted with a wall of words. In observation of National Poetry Month, the Yuba College library has a great display of poetry, showcasing some of the best local, national and international artists.
As you first enter the hall, all you have to do is let your eyes take in the thousands and thousands of words that will have you crying at one moment and laughing the next.
The wall is full of poems that are written or submitted by Yuba College students, faculty and staff. The poems range in theme from death and war to flowers and dancing. As you explore the exhibit, you can read touching poems of watching loved ones grow older to saying your final good-byes to them. The poems that are displayed are special in many different ways. Some are very deep and personal, while others are light-hearted and quirky.
One section of poetry stands out from the rest. These poems are composed by students enrolled in an English as a second language composition class taught by Cheryl Rivera. Some of her students are young and new to this country, while others are older and have been in America for years.
Rivera asked her students to express themselves in English through poetry. When asked why she chose this art form as a means of expression, Rivera said, “I really like to introduce poetry because it’s not always an easy format, but the students get to use their emotions and they have a lot of fun with it.”
While learning the basics of the English language such as simple plurals and pronouns, her students use their newfound knowledge of the English language to write some of the most beautiful poems in the exhibit.
Mao Lee, an ESL student of Rivera’s class, submitted a poem that has touched the hearts of many. The brutally honest poem is titled, “Read Roses.”
In this poem Lee conveys the beauty of roses and what they mean to her. She says that she has never received roses and how empty that makes her feel. She writes that she buys roses for herself on special occasions, like Mother’s Day, and gets them for her husband on Valentine’s Day, without receiving a single rose in return. In her poem, she wonders how “roses made for people love together.”
Recently she did not have to wonder any longer.
On an April morning, during a typical session in Rivera’s ESL class, Mao Lee received a touching gift. A dozen roses were sent to her anonymously from a compassionate reader. The roses arrived with a card that stated, “I read your poem and it touched my heart.”
The look on Lee’s face when receiving the roses made those in the room tear up with joy. Lee finally received the beautiful roses that she has longed for. National Poetry Month is a great eye opener to an otherwise sheltered art form. This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month. And though some poets feel celebrating poetry in this form is too “mainstream,” most think of if as a great opportunity for people to be exposed to this classic form of literature.
While poetry can seem intimidating at times, just about everyone is confronted by it. When asked if she thinks people are affected by poetry, Dr. Sally Harvey, professor of English at Yuba College, said, “Poetry probably touches their lives more than they realize.”
“People think that poetry is sort of a distant thing that never affects them,” Harvey continued, “but when they think twice about it, they realize that they do have some touch with poetry in their lives.”