Create a Glass Wall of Poetry

Editor’s note: Here’s some inspiration for those of you Planning Ahead for National Poetry Month in April.

So I was thinking of those magnetic poetry kits that people put on their refrigerators and filing cabinets, when I got the idea to create a much larger version of it for our library to celebrate National Poetry Month last April. We don’t have a metal surface that large, but we do have some expansive plate glass window walls that separate the library lobby from a computer lab. A perfect creation space for our Glass Wall of Poetry!

I started with ten sheets of ultra cling vinyl sheets compatible with most inkjet printers, purchased online for only $17.37, which included shipping. I bought the white vinyl rather than clear ones so that the finished product would more closely resemble a magnetic poetry kit.

I then found a list online of the five hundred most common words in English, to which I added other words. I wanted to make sure we had the words “library” and “university,” for example. (Sadly, “library” is not currently one of the five hundred.) I also decided that I needed to duplicate—quadruplicate actually—the twenty-five most common words, since people might need more than one “the” or “and” when creating their poems.

I then formatted the words in rows with cutout lines and printed them onto the clings. Some blank clings were included to allow our poets to add their own words if desired. According to the instructions that came with the clings, I applied an aerosol spray laminate to the clings as a clear coat and allowed it to dry.

Using a paper cutter, and with the help of two other industrious library employees, I had the removable and reusable words up in less than an hour, sticking them on the glass wall. A sign across the top proclaimed “April is National Poetry Month.”

We hadn’t even finished putting up all the words for our Glass Poetry Wall when students began creating poems! I was impressed by the very first one a student composed:

carry dark low tension against blue entities
mark those that fish for power
once you have walk through greater energy with music

The Glass Wall of Poetry was a busy place for the entire month, with students stopping to either contribute a poem or to read what was already there. An assistant professor of English even brought her Intermediate Poetry class over one day, and they created several poems. We plan to reproduce the Glass Wall of Poetry again this year, and will be adding even more words! I think it would be a good idea to include punctuation, since the last line of the poem above could have used a comma after the word “have.”

A Glass Wall of Poetry does not take much space, time, or money to create. Consider celebrating National Poetry Month this way at your library this year!