A letter from Patricia Moore Pastides
Dear UofSC Community,
I’m writing to introduce you to a new campus-wide poetry initiative we’re calling UniVERSE.
From childhood, I’ve enjoyed poetry as a literary form that has the power to say so much with so few words. And I’ve dabbled in writing poetry as a means of making sense of the world and celebrating its joys. In reading John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom and Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Yearning to Belong, I was moved by his assertion “poetry is the meditation of literature.” This spoke to me because for several years I’ve found comfort in delving inward to connect with the core of love in the universe through meditation. More recently I’ve come to appreciate a similar experience with poetry. Both have helped me deal with the many uncertainties of this material and transient world, even before the COVID pandemic.
When Harris and I decided to return for this interim year, I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to share poetry as a community-wide endeavor. I met with our esteemed poetry faculty along with the chair of the English Department and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. They suggested concrete ways to launch UniVERSE: UofSC Poetry Initiative.
I’m writing to invite you to participate in sharing the beauty and power of written and recited verse. My hope is that through such participation, we will reemerge from our pandemic isolation as a stronger community than ever before.
To begin with I’m seeking poems you’ve written, so that beginning in January we can publish a poem a day.
You don’t have to be Yeats to submit a poem, you just have to be a member of the UofSC family: students, faculty, staff, or alumni. Your poems can be submitted in free verse or a structured format. They can be about any subject. Poetry can be a medium accessible to all, for all, and about all. I encourage you to submit your work, whether a whimsical ditty about that bird chirping outside your window or a discourse on your life’s passion.
In closing, here’s a poem for you:
There is a place within us all
Where our hearts can feel most deeply
When ignored we lose it far beneath
Sharp barnacles layered steeply
But if you wish to feel your life
Instead of merely passing through it
Quiet your thoughts and pen a poem
Your words will renew your spirit
Hope to see you as part of our UofSC UniVERSE,
Interim First Lady, UofSC
The Vision for UniVERSE
UniVERSE was conceived to share the beauty of language and the powerful insights of poetry within the UofSC community. We seek to encourage writing to cultivate friendship, greater understanding, empathy, healing, and joy. We hope to share meaningful time together at poetry readings and writing sessions where we can begin to rebound from the separation and isolation of the COVID pandemic. UniVERSE seeks to renew us both individually and in community through poetry.
The entire UofSC community including students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to participate.
Using poetry as a medium, we seek to engage lifelong poets, occasional writers, and novices in writing from the depth of their experience and sharing their poems. Poems may be submitted through the website and may be selected to appear on the website, on coffee cup sleeves and tent cards on dining tables throughout campus. Pop -up and scheduled poetry readings will provide opportunities for gatherings to hear one another’s work. We hope to engage people who never thought about poetry by offering opportunities to listen to poetry and if interested participate in informal writing workshops within their workplaces, clubs, organizations, or teams.
The extent of the events on campus will directly relate to the poetry ambassadors who engage with us to help set up events for their constituents.
Anyone interested may participate as a poetry ambassador with varied responsibilities. Some will help to organize events on campus, others will volunteer to read and select poems to be published on campus, some may lead poetry readings or writing workshops, still others may contribute in more technical ways, such as graphic arts and social media.
To express your interest in becoming a poetry ambassador, please email me at UniVERSE@sc.edu.