National Poetry Month was started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to make poetry a part of everyday life. This year National Poetry Month coincides with the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, so Lehigh Libraries will be celebrating the Bard all month! Join us for events and activities planned throughout the month of April, including open mic night now with Shakespeare cosplay, a virtual talk on Shakespeare, and a songwriting workshop!

Sonnet Slam with Bob Watts | Lucy’s Café | April 7, 8pm

Please join Lehigh Libraries and Lehigh After Dark for an Open Mic Night/Poetry Reading with a twist. Come read your original poetry or your favorite poem while dressed as your favorite character from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Cosplay is optional but appreciated. Pizza and snacks will be served. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume. Professor Bob Watts (Creative Writing) will moderate the open mic portion of the event.

Bob Watts, an Associate Professor in English/Creative Writing at Lehigh University, writes poetry and creative nonfiction. He has a Creative Writing MA from North Carolina State University and a Creative Writing PhD in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His first collection of poems, Past Providence (David Robert Books, February 2005), won the 2004 Stanzas Prize from David Robert Books, and his work has been published in Poetry, The Paris Review, Great River Review and reDivider, among other journals.

Songwriting with Travis Hobbie | EWFM 520 | April 14, 1pm

Songs can be thought of as poetry set to music, so what better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than with a songwriting workshop.  Learn how to write songs by joining Lehigh Libraries for an interactive workshop led by music teacher Travis Hobbie. Advanced registration at is required.

Travis Hobbie has been an active member of the Lehigh Valley music scene for 20 years and a local music educator for 10+ years. He teaches instruments ranging from ukulele to piano to voice, in addition to facilitating songwriting and bandcoaching, and he views music-making as a transformative and fun process of discovery. 

Shakespeare’s Stepchildren: Barbara Traister | via Zoom | April 18, 4:30pm

Images of Shakespeare and his work are embedded throughout our 21st century society, sometimes in forms and contexts that Shakespeare himself might hardly recognize. The theater and other literary forms, opera, music, advertising, political cartoons, and everyday speech: all often make use  of words, phrases, and images derived from or that make direct reference to Shakespeare. Why have Shakespeare and his texts remained influential in "popular" as well as "high" culture for more than 400 years? Join Emerita Professor Barbara Traister in a virtual discussion as she explores Shakespeare’s continued cultural impact. To register:

Barbara Traister teaches and writes about the literature of 16th and 17th century Britain, particularly about Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Barbara has a PhD from Yale University and taught briefly in the Midwest at Kalamazoo College before coming to Lehigh in 1973. She has held fellowships from NEH, the Rockefeller Foundation, ACLS, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Her publications include Heavenly Necromancers: The Magician in English Renaissance Drama (Missouri), The Notorious Astrological Physician of London (Chicago), Anonymity in Early Modern England (co-edited with Janet Starner for Ashgate) and numerous articles on early modern drama, medicine, and magic.

Overdrive Ebook and Audiobook Poetry Collection

Discover and read a diverse selection of poets in this year's Poetry Month OverDrive Collection, which includes titles from Danez Smith, Claudia Rankine, Ocean Vuong, and rupi kaur, among many others.