The combination of MLK, Jr. Day on Monday and Barack Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday has prompted many Americans to reflect on the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for equality in our country.
In this spirit, the MW Library is sponsoring a Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Poetry Challenge.
What is the challenge, you ask? Your challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to do the following:
- First, research an event, person, group of persons (e.g. the Greensboro Four) or theme connected to the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. by consulting primary documents that allow you to experience this time period through firsthand accounts (e.g. diaries, letters, interviews, historic photographs, news articles, etc.)
- Then, compose a group of original poems that convey a vivid, coherent sense of the selected event, theme, person, or group in a voice (or voices) authentic to the primary sources consulted (a Works Consulted list is required) and unified in their writing style.
What could I win? A book featuring your group of poems (1 copy for you and 1 for the MW Library) – funded by Friends of the MW Library.
How do I enter? Submit your entry to Ms. Sellors by Friday, Feb. 27 (a valid entry consists of a group of original poems addressing the challenge and a complete Works Consulted list)
If you’d like to read published examples of groups of poems that give voice to history in this manner, see Out of the Dust and Witness by Karen Hesse (both of which can be found in most public libraries), as well as Blizzard Voices by Ted Kooser and Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson. These latter two are in the MW Library’s collection.
One question I’ve been asked since I started posting flyers is “what do you mean by a book?” What I have in mind is something like the poetry books that can be self-published using Blurb – pretty cool and relatively simple.
Note that if you choose to accompany your poetry with images, the images must be yours or clearly free of copyright issues. Your entry will be judged on the degree to which your original poems meet the stated challenge; images will not impact the panel’s decision.
To facilitate your research, I’ve created a poetry challenge project guide. Enjoy!