Open poetry reading will continue this month

The gathering of students and experienced poets

is a break for students toward the end of terms

Young man with short dark hair, mustache and goatee.

By Bret Saveleski

Knightly News Reporter


Man with beard and glasses

Michael Lear-Olimpi

Knightly News Editor and Media-Club Co-Adviser

Like the echoing rhythm of rhyme, Central Penn’s recently launched open poetry night in the library will return this month – on the 17th.

The reading will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the library’s Charles T. Jones Leadership Room, where two previous readings – the first in early March, and the second in early December – of the informal series have been held.

Attendees can read their poetry or others’ work, talk about poetry or share writing practices they use. Participants will also be able to engage in poetry-writing activities. Snacks, such as cookies and granola bars, and beverages, such as tea and hot chocolate, will be available.

A winning extracurricular activity

Two young men on chairs in a room with many shelved books
Some attendees of the March reading.
Photo by Haylee Boggs

The first poetry reading drew 17 participants – 13 students and four faculty members.

At that gathering, and at the one in early March, students read some of their favorite poems from established poets, and shared some of their own.

Michael Lear-Olimpi, assistant professor of communications and Harrisburg-area poet, shared some of his work. Library Director Margaret Schachte shared some work, too.

Taylor Lagyak, a recent Central Penn criminal-justice graduate, attended the first library reading and shared some poems from her recently published book, “Twenty and Pregnant.” You can buy it on Amazon.

One student at the March gathering read a poem he wrote on the spot.

Schachte said she was impressed by the student poets’ talent.

Woman in purple T-shirt hold the poetry book "Life on Mars" while leaning against a case of books in a library
Central Penn Library Director Margaret Schachte in the Charles T. Jones Leadership Library’s poetry section. The library is an inspiring place to produce writing. The college’s library has a solid collection of poetry. Creative workshopping will be on tap at the poetry gathering on the 17th.
Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi

Student work hit some marks

“I also found it interesting how some of the students shared some of the grief they were dealing with through their poetry,” she said.

Students also participated in a form of “found,” or created-on-the-spot, poetry known as blackout poetry. This mode of writing is also referred to as erasure or redacted poetry, and is done by using preexisting text to create something new. For example, some portions of the text are kept, while others are blacked out with a marker or by other means.

Schachte and Lear-Olimpi started the informal series last fall term.

An idea blooms

“We came up with the idea when Margaret started working here,” Lear-Olimpi said. “She was putting books on display in the library, and I mentioned that it was National Poetry Month (April). Margaret said she’d been reading poetry and other works with students. That was when we came up with the idea to start the event later in the year.”

A paperback book page with some words on it but with most words blacked out with magic marker
Some blackout poems from the March meeting
Photos by
Michael Lear-Olimpi

“The goal is to have it quarterly during Week 9 or around then,” Lear-Olimpi, who was a judge at poetry slams on campus several years ago, said. “I know that we have some students interested in poetry on campus, and we want to give them a chance to share their work.”

Five students joined Schachte and Lear-Olimpi at the March reading. Two stuck around for blackout poetry. The other students had to leave early to attend a 6 p.m. class. Schachte posted images of the blackout poems on the Central Penn app.

Poetic blooms abound

Flora Armetta and Amanda Stuckey, assistant professors of humanities, also lured some Central Penn student poets into public as part of a Central Penn poetry contest the professors put on in conjunction with the American Academy of Poets that featured prizes from the Academy of American Poets and from the college.

Smiling young woman with curly brown hair and eyeglasses

Student Haylee Boggs won at Central Penn for her poem “The Crow and I.” She snagged a $100 prize from the academy. Boggs shared the poem at one of the library readings. The academy will publish Boggs’ on its student poets’ webpage.

Student Leo Rivera won runner-up and $25 from Central Penn for “Ton Parfum Mourant” (“Your Dying Scent”).

In another appreciation of poetry, the college featured biographical information of Black poets on posters on the Central Penn app during February, Black History Month.

For more information, contact Lear-Olimpi at, or Schachte at

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.