Yale has a way of dropping opportunities into your lap (or technically, email inbox, but you get what I mean) when you least expect it — and one of those surprises arrived this spring when ten other student poets and I were asked to read two poems each at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library as part of the annual Yale College Poets Reading Series!
Wait, what’s that? And how does it work?
It’s pretty much what it sounds like — students are invited by faculty to participate in an event co-sponsored by the Yale Collection of American Literature and the English Department’s Creative Writing Program! And this year’s reading, in addition to feeling like a huge honor to be invited to, and being one of the larger audiences I’ve performed for, was also quite the full-circle moment for me.
POV: you’re me reacting to the news that you’ve been asked to read at the Beinecke!
Kinsale and I reading our poems inside the Beinecke, and us together outside the Beinecke after the reading had ended!
But first, a little context. Does it feel like I’m saying “the Beinecke” a lot? That’s actually on purpose — because the library and its range of documents and potential for research was one of the main reasons why I chose Yale! So getting to read inside the very building that had drawn me here years ago, alongside several close friends and fellow poets — like Kinsale, who I’ve known since my first-year fall, and Cassidy and Baylina, who I’ve known since my sophomore fall — who I’d also performed with before felt like both the culmination of all my poetic work here and also, a kind of comforting send-off.
In one world, I might’ve thought of it as a bittersweet, high-stakes farewell performance — but as jittery as I was beforehand, it ultimately felt more like another sharing of work between friends (just this time, in front of hundreds of people).
The chapbook for the event, with our poems inside!
Audience members were also welcome to take a chapbook that compiled the work of all eleven poets in it — and the Beinecke also kept one copy, too, which each of us signed, for their own archives. And as I left, and as I saw some of my poet-friends for the last time in the semester, I thought about that: that each of us would leave some small but united fragments of ourselves here, our words tethered together.