This past spring, Graceland University launched a creative writing project in the Iowa-Missouri border region that brought Graceland University English majors together with local high school students to read, write, recite and discuss poetry. The campaign culminated in the university’s inaugural Poetry Day on April 7, in tribute to National Poetry Month.
Starting in January, student volunteers at the university met with project coordinator Timothy Robbins, an Assistant Professor of English at Graceland, to develop lesson plans on the history, form and craft of poetry. With the cooperation of local instructors and administrators, the group visited English classrooms at Lamoni, Mount Ayr and Central Decatur high schools in Iowa, and Cainsville, Ridgeway, North Harrison and South Harrison high schools in Missouri, to promote the event. The project received generous financial and logistic support throughout from Graceland University, TRiO Educational Talent Search and The Dekko Foundation.
Thirty students pursued the project to its end, working with Graceland assistants through the spring to write and revise poems for the keynote event in Lamoni. Graceland Poetry Day featured a master writing workshop, scholarly discussions and several rounds of impromptu poetry performances! All attendees will have their final poems printed in a special edition of Graceland’s literary magazine, The Vespiary, this coming fall, in addition to earning creative writing scholarships to attend the university in the future.
The Graceland University Poetry Day project — working at the intersection of public scholarship and civic engagement — seeks to continue collaborating with our local communities. The 2017 event is set to expand in scope to reach more high schools and include more students from the region.