“If everybody became a poet the world would be much better,” Nikki Giovanni once wrote. “We would all read to each other.”

Hokie Nation, if not the world, will become enriched on Feb. 8 from 5 to 6 p.m., when poets will read to each other — and the rest of the Virginia Tech community — during the annual Nikki Giovanni Celebration of Poetry.

Each year, the Virginia Tech Department of English hosts the ceremony as a tribute to winners of the Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize, one of the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate literary awards.

When Giovanni, an internationally acclaimed poet and the University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech, established the competition in 2005, she named the award for its first benefactor, Charles W. Steger, the university’s president at the time. Fifteen years later the award was renamed the Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize.

This year, the event will be held in person at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre of the Moss Arts Center, with a virtual option. The ceremony will feature college and university leaders reading their favorite poems, alternating with student finalists presenting their own works. The event will culminate in the naming of the three winners, followed by a reception.

The ceremony is a highlight of the first-ever Virginia Tech Humanities Week, to be held Feb. 7 through 11 as part of the university’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. Register for the livestreamed event — and any other virtual Humanities Week events — here.

“There’s no better way to spend an evening than celebrating poetry with Nikki Giovanni and the rest of the Department of English,” said Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, chair of the department. “The students do an amazing job. This is an event not to be missed.”

Written by Paula Byron