Since 1996, the United States has honored April as National Poetry Month. To quote a line from poet Lucille Clifton, it’s a “perfect invitation” to celebrate the ways in which stanzas, synecdoche, and verse have affected readers. This exhibit explores the many ways that poems have shaken, troubled, and soothed readers across space and time.

For one woman, Latin poet Catullus’  “the golden line”—a five-word line usually arranged as adjective adjective verb noun noun—revolutionized her understanding of grammar and lyricism. Scrolling through social media, a college student encountered the words of 21st-century poet Rupi Kaur (of Instagram fame). Lucille Clifton’s poetry offered an English professor a model of how to “navigate life as a Black academic,” affirming her calling to choose a “life of the mind.” At his comatose son’s bedside, a father recognized aspects of his own despair in Homer’s epic The Odyssey.

Modernist poet T.S. Eliot once deemed April the “cruelest” month, famously “mixing memory and desire.” Centuries earlier, in The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer marked it as a time of pilgrimage, with its zephyrous winds and showers bathing the roots of flowers in “swich licour.” What does the month of April mean to you?