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Program Poetry & Literature

Poetry for the Mind's Joy

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan created this project in 2009 to promote the hard work of the staffs and students in American community colleges. To this end, the Library of Congress sponsored a video conference with Ryan and students from community colleges, as well as a poetry writing contest open to community college students.

Of the project, Kay Ryan said, “I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly—and with very little financial encouragement—saving lives and minds. It is at a community college that a student can progress all the way from learning to read to learning to read poetry. That is, she can get the basic tools she must have to advance in the world and then go on and use them for the mind’s joy. This is a progression that improves both the student and her community every step of the way.”

Watch Kay Ryan launch "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" at the Library of Congress in October 2010

Winning poems were selected during a competition administered in the spring of 2010 by the Community College Humanities Association. Winners were chosen at the local level by the participating campuses.

We hope this sampling will give you an idea of the literary creativity on today's community college campuses.