The Poet is In @Main : The power of Library programs

Staff member Jenna Marrotta and poet Sky pose together after she received her poem.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Library staff member Pam Turner came up with the idea to do a poet-in-residence program at Main Library. Her original concept was to have two poets spend an hour a day at an unused public service desk and write poetry on-demand for anyone who asked.

The Poet is IN @ Main has grown from Turner’s original concept. Instead of having only two poets available for an hour each day, a group of poets and Library staff members occupy the desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the month of April, to write poems for anyone who stops by with a prompt. The poets sit behind the desk, equipped with typewriters and personalized stationery, ready to deliver poems for those who seek them.

One poem recipient was Library staff member Jenna Marrotta. On April 2, 2019, she came to visit the poets and scribbled a prompt down for her poet to use as inspiration. “I wrote that I have a son recently diagnosed with Autism and that I would like to have a poem that helped express my love for my son, but also describes how completely different our life has become after receiving this diagnosis,” Marrotta said.

She worried that her prompt might be too specific for anyone to be able to compose a poem. However, Marrotta received the following:

Hey mommy

It’s me

your special little boy

and i wanted you to know

it was nt always perfect

but your love helped me grow

Weve always had problems trying to comprehend

They way to love each other

in a way we both understand

you always wanted me to look you in your eyes

but you never realized how much I loved your lullabyes

You always thought I neede special tending

I always felt your ability to worry was never ending

But I want to thank you

We were never tv ready

Life was always hectic

and i didn’t always do as i directed

But i never told you

So i don’t think you know

How much of me I got from you

How I cherished all the things we’d do

even when you though i wasn’t paying attention

Icouldnt tell you then, because i didn’t have the words

You hadnt yet taught me how to navigate this absurd

crazy world

But it was you who showed me, all the things i could do

Like Reading, and cooking and video games

i mean you were the one you taught me how to write my name

and maybe our relationship was never the same

As the ones we saw on tv

But i promis you

the reality

was so much more we

So much more me

So much so that i couldn’t possibly

wishfor any other

I’ve only made it this far …

Because of my mother


Her poet signed the poem “From a man on the spectrum for a mother he never knew.” Marrotta was immediately brought to tears. Her poet happened to be on the spectrum himself. She felt his poem shared his own voice, but also captured the voice of her son who is not yet able to communicate his thoughts. Also, in another coincidence, April 2  happened to be World Autism Day.

She stated, “This is a poem I will cherish forever and it was particularly meaningful to me, especially today.”