Poetry of SJSU Students, and Employees With Occasional Poems

From the California Normal School to SJSU Today

SJSU Legacy of Poetry
Introduction Selected Poems Additional Links
More on SJSU Poetry


Soon after the opening of the Normal School in 1857, students began writing and publishing their creative works, including poems. This page includes samples of some of these poems of students past and present as well as faculty who occasionally contribute original works to the legacy.

Selected Poems

Original Poem of SJSU Provost Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., PhD for 2021 Legacy of Poetry Festival

Will there be a “Post” to Our New Viral Worlds?

Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., Ph.D.
San José State University

After polio they said
Medical technologies have put polio in the past
In 2020 another polio outbreak
It’s small,
In Pakistan and Afghanistan

After the vaccine
They say COVID will also be in the past
But not for most of the world
And, perhaps not in time
For mutations, transgressions, resistances

Every time we think
We have conquered the viral world
We are reminded of our past
And, our future

No matter how much technology we employ
Humans are the key
Our modern world refuses to let us “sit still”
We move, fly, travel
Connect places with speed and agility
Helping diseases move freely

People refuse masks and other PPE
In the name of freedom and individuality
A neoliberal concept – the individual

Where is our sense of society? Of collective action?
Of distant others who we should treat as
   Our brothers and sisters

Viruses don’t care
About our politics, our socio-economic differences
Our racism, classism, sexism
Our heternormativities, our social realities
But, viruses thrive because of our inequities and inequalities
Humans are the key to the viral future

In higher education
We will continue to struggle
As we gather new information
Filtered through different lenses

If there is such thing as a post-COVID world
What does it look like to attend university? 
How do we balance online and face-to-face?
Short-term, we will continue to
Monitor, respond, adapt, and mitigate

Long-term is less clear
How we wish for a crystal ball
Students will demand that we learn from our time in shelter
Programs must meet them more-and-more
    Where “they are” 
    and not where we “want them to be”
The higher ed world will be increasingly mediated

We are developing a new vocabulary for managing this world
Density, flexibility, Hy-Flex, Asynchronous, Synchronous
Zoom bombs, Glitches, Screen Freezes
Sheltering with technology has not always prove satisfying
But, it has proven helpful and possible if done with care

Opportunity does abound
Shifting pedagogies to provide students with
More ownership of their learning
Moves away from high stakes assessment
With partnerships, co-labs, creativity
Grades, do we need them?

COVID has forced us to speed up
Conversations that have been smoldering
Across higher education for some time
Responding to the changing world that students may demand of us

Higher education will change
For better or worse
In making it better we have to control our own fate
By pushing ourselves and our boundaries
By thinking of increasing inclusion across the diversity
         of learners and spaces that are part of our everyday realities
It may not be the world we envisioned for higher education
But, it may be the world we have
And our ability to allow ourselves to be shaped by it
            even while we are shaping it will be key

Winning Poems from the 2007 SJSU Legacy of Poetry Contest

Labor Day, 2005

By Peter Bosel

It's Monday evening, Labor

Day.  I am dining at a mildly Italian

restaurant.  I like that I can't order

a sandwich I have ordered pasta

but now am chewing on the house

salad (these mixed lettuce bits

are so dry!) oh why did I not get

the Caesar with its drenched

Romaine bites and abundant

croutons?  This abundance is

America , I think.


America you are

a dinner guest, frequent restaurant-

goer, and party to the hospitable host.

You sit near the end of a long table

with friends and not-so-friends,

cohorts and enemies alike, munching

from a bowl of croutons. 


America your setting is

a mess.  Crumbs and spices

sit in uncomfortable dampness.

Why America ,

when the waitress filled

your water glass, her eyes

distracted, her arm

indiscriminately pouring,

cool water rising, why America ,

did you not reach

out your hand more quickly?


What can be done, America ?

You already used your napkin

to silence the screaming

baby at the next table.

What can be done, America ?

You have grown wide, sluggish,

your arms and legs stick out

like dinner rolls.

What can be done, America ,

when all eyes pin their black

pupils to your inert frame?

What can be done, America ?

But to raise up your bulk

and stand unflinching

against every order

of the ceaseless wind.


  • "Peripheral Vision"
    • Honorable Mention 

Peripheral Vision

by Rachelle Escamilla

When you drive into my town, look left.

Little girls and boys swirl with dolls and

trucks - spinning, spin, spiral.


When you drive into my town, look right.

Orchards. Apricot arms scratch the

mountain scalps. 1Vamos con el sol.


When you drive into my town look left.

Cookie cut cul-de-sacs cloud the

hills - spreading, sprawled, eerie.


When you drive into my town, look right.

cows, branches y 2trabajadores bowing

backs to the sun. bright, hot, smoldering.


When you drive into my town, look left.

Astrobright lawns, cool pools pop like

Easter eggs in plastic, faux greens.


When you drive into my town, stop for

Him. Watch His new boots stick to the

blacktop begging turn back.  He holds his leaf-

blower tight. 3Andale. The lemon yellow sky's

the limit. 


When you drive into my town keep going.


1 Vamos con el sol; Let's go with the sun

2 Trabajadores - workers

3 Andale - Hurry up!


McTate Stroman II (2007) -

Poems of the 1920's and 1930's

  • Two selections from A Day in the Hills (September 18, 1926) - Competitive Poems
    • "Home-Coming"

      by Sibyl Croly Hanchett

         Winner of the First Prize in the group of thirty poems


      THERE'S a warm pressure in the gusts,

      Like blown velvet-ominously warm;

      A few pale leaves take their last ride;

      Dust rises like a whirl of moonlight;

      A tumble-weed is going somewhere

      In a great hurry;

      And the clouds have much business.

      Behind three squares of light

      Is peace

      And a sweet wood fire.

      Fasten the old doors securely -

      They must not remember being trees.

      And we will talk with the fire

      Until rain washes down the dark

      And lays us quiet.  


      • Additional information on Mrs. Hanchett from a State College Times article of 1926.



    • "Dirt"

       by Willard Maas

      YOU lie dead and cold


      Who could fathom what you hold?

      Bones of poets, castles, carved marble

      A doll's head.

      You lie dead and cold



  • "Impressions"
  • From the first edition (June 1925) of The Quill, page 23 (a magazine of student works published by the English Club).


by Mardel Sweeney

Everything we do, everything we say,

Makes a tiny ripple on the surface of the day;

Every time we frown, every time we smile,

Makes a great impression, that endures for quite a while;

We cannot call them back, and we cannot all forget,

So let us see that every day is one we'll not regret.


  • "To Henry Meade Bland"
    • This poem appeared in The Laureate's Wreath - An anthology in Honor of Dr. Henry Meade Bland (1934), published by The Edwin Markham Poetry Society Chapter of the Poetry Society of London; page 63.

To Henry Meade Bland
(The Master of Song)

by Harry Hecker

Oh, you whom God has touched with fire

To know His moods, His might and love

And harp them on the muse's lyre,

A melody of God and love!

You catch the music in the air,

The lilting birds, the humming bees,

The Water laughing, splashing fair,

The leaflets rustling on the trees;

Then, in the greatness of your heart,

The song of beauty that you see,

Your gift to others you impart

And teach us all to sing with thee!

  • "This was written during an outburst of enthusiasm in one of Dr. Bland's classes where I was a worshipful student."  (Harry Hecker)

Poems of 1900 - 1919

  • "Class Poem"

  • From the Normal Pennant, June 1908, Vol 10, No. 9

Class Poem 

By Sibyl Croly

The untried pathways of a hidden land

Lie at our feet,

As filled with hope and memories we stand,

Eager to greet

The future, and to shape with loyal hand

Our lives complete.

Our path may lead us through the level plain

Or Mountains blue;

Still we must find, who on that path would fain

Walk brave and true,

Purpose to guide and friendship to sustain

And will to do.

Return to SJSU 
Legacy of Poetry

Additional Links


This page last updated April19, 2021

SJSU Legacy of Poetry Celebration

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Last Modified: Feb 22, 2023