Poetry Auction: Nickel for Your Thoughts

Nicole Battista, Reporter

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, held a “Wonder of Words” poetry auction to raise funds for the Wilkes- Barre school district through the Dictionary Project.

The Dictionary Project is an online program that allows the public to buy brand new dictionaries for any school district of their choice, Auraleah Grega, president of Sigma Tau Delta said.

The event raised over $400 from audience members and speakers.

Participants paid to read their original poems, costing them anywhere from $2 to $30.

Speakers donated five cents per word and the audience was asked to match the contribution if they enjoyed the piece.

“It’s all in the spirit of raising money for a literacy campaign. No poems will be sold to audience members,” said Grega.

There were over 23 speakers. Eight were professors. Only five were English majors but many students from other majors participated, including communications, social work, physical therapy and nursing. A professor from Wilkes University spoke as well.

Poets extended their topics beyond the recommended theme of literature, language and words.

Nick Stanovick, English and philosophy major, read a poem about his experience working at Turkey Hill.

“I want to bring him to my calculus class, see him squirm like the pattern of a cosign curve.”

Many poets said that words are a part of them. One poet said that words “stretch and curl across my tongue” while another said that “letters melt into my skin and drip from my lips”.

Dr. Amanda Caleb, assistant professor of English, and Dr. Matt Nickel, adjunct professor of English, showed exactly how powerful words are.

Dr. Caleb said “Your limitations are not yours, but words,” suggesting that while words can literally define, they do not make up who a person really is.

English Professor Dr. Matthew Nickel asked attendees, “Will you write the words to remember?,” giving a message to his students, to whom he dedicated the poem, that history is found in reading, and words can change the way history will be remembered.

Emily Halbing, a psychology major read, “It’s actually pretty weird if you think about it.”

Proceeds helped Sigma Tau Delta reach their goal of $1200, which will give the Wilkes-Barre school district 600 dictionaries through the Dictionary Project.

The overall goal of Sigma Tau Delta is to donate 1200 dictionar- ies over two years. The dictionar- ies will be delivered directly to the schools once they are ordered.

“At the end of the year, we can give them half of the dictionaries they need. My feeling is that any dictionary is better than no dictionary,” Caleb said.

Caleb said that this project was more manageable than in the past.

“When we did a book drive a few years ago, those 1400 books were in my office.”

Her office will not be full of dictionaries.

Sigma Tau Delta held two 50/50 raffle and did a book drive on campus with Better World Books. For every book the company received $1 was donated to the individual’s project. Ten percent of the profit goes to the organization of the individual’s choosing as well. The chapter chose Books for Africa and raised over $400 from selling the books.

The Wilkes-Barre school district will benefit from the Dictionary Project.

Grega said that her and the other members of Sigma Tau Delta felt that “providing dictionaries to local schools would promote an appreciation for language, inspire students to read and write, and support educators in their efforts to improve literacy by giving them resources compatible for the classroom”.

Caleb said that she is not sure that people value dictionaries as much as they should.

“A dictionary is a place to go and learn synonyms, antonyms, all of that is embodied in it. If we want to have students who are educated to do things in the world, to make a dif- ference, to inherit the place we’ve left for them, we need them to be well-educated.”

Grega said dictionaries “In giving us the meaning of words, they then give words meaning”.

Those who did not previously enter the auction were able to participate in the “open mic” part at the end of the event.

If the audience members did not bring cash or wanted to donate more than they had brought, they could fill out a slip with their name, the poet’s name, and the donation amount.

This was the first poetry auction hosted by Sigma Tau Delta.

“It’s events like these that remind me how special Misericordia is and how generously our students give of themselves,” Caleb said.

A self-published anthology of the poems may be published in the future.

“If we do compile an anthology (to be sold for further funding of the project), any poet who read will be considered. All those who give their consent will be included,” Grega said.

For more information on the Dictionary Project, please visit www.dictionaryproject.org

If you would like to donate to support Sigma Tau Delta and the Wilkes-Barre school district, please contact Dr. Caleb.

[email protected]