About Poetry GSO

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About Poetry GSO

Poetry GSO was conceived in April 2003 by the Greensboro Public Library with many community partners who shared a common desire to promote and celebrate poetry. Poetry plays a part in all of our lives. In addition to those who enjoy reading poetry, nearly everyone experiences poetry in some way: through music, in worship, and in ceremony. Language and customs are often learned by the very young through poetry in the form of nursery rhymes. Poetry can be a very personal experience or it can be shared with a group.

Greensboro has been home to many renowned poets, not the least of which was Randall Jarrell who lived in Greensboro from 1947-65 and taught at The Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG). From 1956-58, Jarrell was Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, a title which was later changed to United States Poet Laureate. He was the original inspiration for PoetryGSO and it is his face that appears in the Poetry GSO logo.

The centerpiece of Poetry GSO has been to bring a famous poet to Greensboro. In 2004, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins was featured. In 2005, Rita Dove, another former US Poet Laureate was featured. In 2006, Greensboro hosted five famous poets: Luiz Rodriguez, Linda Hogan, Coleman Barks, Glennis Redmon and Ekiwah Adler-Belendez. Learn more about these poets in the Poetry 2006 magazine. In 2007, Poetry GSO focused on the healing power of poetry and featured a variety of workshops and unique programming around this theme.

The 2008 celebration of poetry featured Nikki Giovanni. 
2008 Poetry GSO Calendar

Poetry in Public Places
Poetry GSO promotes the appreciation of poetry by making poems available in places where you might just "bump into them." You may find poetry on a placemat at your favorite restaurant, displayed on the bus, in a basket near the register at a retail establishment, in the waiting room at your doctor's office, on a community bulletin board, or even in a public restroom. The idea is to allow people to experience poetry passively and unexpectedly. These poems are sometimes fixed to the location or free for the taking. Look for the baskets that read: Free Poems.

High School Poet Laureate Project
Poetry GSO inspires young poets through the High School Poet Laureate Program. Through a partnership with media specialists from Guilford County Schools, poetry contests are held at each high school. Three semi-finalists are selected from each school. Their works are judged and one finalist is awarded the title of Poet Laureate. The winning poems are published in a chapterbook. View a list of past High School Poet Laureates. This project is funded by the United Arts Council. Read the works of 2006's High School Poet Laureates representing schools all over Guilford County.

Greensboro's Favorite Poems
Poetry GSO gets people talking about poetry by asking the question, "What is your favorite poem?" In its inaugural year, more than 300 submissions of favorite poems were gathered. Two videos were created, modeled after former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky's favorite poem project. These videos were aired on local public access television. In 2005, the Top Ten Favorite submissions were selected for a special poetry reading.

Poetry Sampler
In 2005, Greensboro's first Poetry Sampler was held at the Greensboro Historical Museum. For the first time ever, many of Greensboro's preeminent poets read on the same stage in a unique occasion created to offer a brief sampling of each writer's work. During this fast-paced event each poet shared about 10 minutes of verse.