When poet Rachelle Toarmino took the lectern in the SEM chapel on Friday, April 13, she nonchalantly made history. Reading from her phone and not from a traditional chapbook or sheath of papers, she was instantly at one with her audience - whether she or they recognized the power in the approach.
SEM students were fully engaged while she read, laughing and clapping throughout. Hers were poems they could hear themselves in. After reading dozens of poems about love, angst, feminism and celebrities, Rachelle closed with a selfie with the students.
In a recent profile in the New York Times Magazine, Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith said she "didn't discover poetry as a living force until she got to college." SEM students are fortunate they don't have to wait for college - SEM has a sophomore poetry workshop every winter given by a visiting poet - this year, Janet McNally. Janet was the Wilkinson Poet in 2017. The workshop closes in the spring with a day dedicated to poetry which culminates in Wilkinson lecture and reading.
Rachelle is the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Peach mag. She has authored two chapbooks and has been published numerous places.
We are grateful to Elizabeth McNulty Wilkinson '25 for her endowment for a poetry chair at SEM. Mrs. Wilkinson makes it possible for SEM to bring a practicing poets to school who enrich the teaching and learning of poetry.