This coming April, in honor of National Poetry Month Leatherby Libraries will be hosting its first Gumball Poetry display. This is the story behind it.

Nothing makes you reevaluate the stuff you own quite like moving does. Nothing is safe from that reevaluation and what does make it into a box is forever different from the stuff that didn’t make the cut.

One thing that had to come was my Filing Box of Unorganized but Important Papers. It’s a box that sat in the back of my closet and only ever gained papers, and now, having to move it up two flights of stairs I began to reevaluate a couple of pounds worth of “importance.” I took a seat and began that reevaluation with a paper shredder nearby.

I came across a massive stack of papers bound together with binder clips, paper clips, and even a few rubber bands. They were poems from the first poetry workshop I had participated in. Every week we would meet, distribute poems and discuss. The group was so small we didn’t bother with returning written comments; you’d only write a few notes to remind yourself. I took a moment to read the old poems, as I think anyone would, avoiding my own poems like the plague (as any poet would).

I’m still connected to these poets in the way a lot of us are connected and not connected to friends from college. I write “happy birthday” on their Facebook wall every year. I “Like” photos of weddings, babies, etcetera. But in that moment I found myself with this forgotten aspect of the person behind the cat photo. The connection brought a smile to my face.

My most recent poetry workshop was a year ago now and I wonder how many of those great poems from my peers at this new campus are now nothing more than papers in a pile somewhere. I’d bet a lot of them, because I know I have poems of my own — from that same workshop — just clipped together. Don’t ask me to find them; I haven’t unpacked them yet.

Jump to last fall. The deadline for creative grant proposals was coming up and I knew I wanted to do something and I knew I wanted to do something with poetry knowing that National Poetry Month was around the corner. I came across a kind of project: poems in gumball machines. The setup was simple enough: turn the coin mechanism and receive a poem, free of charge. It had been done all over.

So I thought I’d bring it to Chapman University and include all those poems written by my peers that never seemed to go anywhere thinking maybe those poems could find a home in someone’s pocket. Brighten someone’s day. Maybe make that person feel a little more connected to their campus peers in a way different than we’ve all become accustomed to. The proposal was approved.

I’m looking for poems now. I’ll be sending out a call for submissions at the end of this week. I’m looking for poems from any and all Chapman University students past and present. Any language. Any theme. The goal is to spread this creative body of work that would otherwise go unappreciated, and continue in the efforts of Chapman University’s Wilkinson College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Leatherby Libraries, and Tabula Poetica: Poetry Center in keeping the pulse of poetry at Chapman beating, and in the proccess, connect us all a little more.

If interested, or ready to submit, send me an email at