Poets and poetry lovers gathered together on Tuesday, Jan. 24 to read and listen to students’ original work and published poetry. Organized by Professor Melissa Range and Professor Charles Segrest of the English department, the open mic was to “bring our poets in to build a sense of community outside of the classroom,” said Range.
Strange Commons grew quiet as the group listened intently while each person read their chosen poem. The open mic was open to all, including enrolled in the poetry workshop class and also those who have never taken one. It was a calming atmosphere as the different students shared their variety of chosen works.
Senior Allison Wray read “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath and “For Teenage Girls with Ambition and Trembling Hearts” by Clementine von Radics. Allison is an English major and editor of TROPOS magazine. When asked why she chose these poems, Allison shared that she “likes angry lady poetry. Sylvia Plath has been one of [her favorites since early high school. As I’ve gotten older [she] has been identifying more with her.”
Not all the readers were English majors. Junior Caleb Rosenthal, a music major, shared his original pieces “Beware, the Dangers of Poetry” and “Staring Contest.” He wrote “Beware, the Dangers of Poetry” while he “was on a bus and writing a lot of poetry when it dawned on [him] how much time [he] was spending on poetry and not on [his] supposed ‘major study.’ Then, the poem just wrote itself,” said Rosenthal.
Often when not delved into, the true stories within the work go unnoticed. “The importance of poetry is linking literary tradition that has a variety of voices and potential for people now to tap into and find inspiration,” said Segrest. Poetry can be found in any situation, giving the writer themselves reason to look deeper.
Senior Rachel York read her original poem “What Kind of Poetry Do You Write?” and Rick Barot’s “Tarp”. Rachel said she discovered the author Rick Barot because her “best friend read one of his books during college and is lending [her] the book right now. ‘Tarp’ is [her] favorite poem by him thus far,” said York, emphasizing the importance of the shared nature of literature.
Here on campus, more poetry events and opportunities are happening throughout this term. Poet Rita Mae Reese will be coming to read her poetry on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston galleries. Students can also join members from the Fox Cities community at The Draw for their “Poetry Rocks Reading Series” happening on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. Lastly, another open mic from Professor Range and Professor Segrest will be happening on Feb. 21 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Strange Commons. Everybody is welcome as well as all styles of poetry.
The open mic allowed students to share a part of who they are and the stories they want to share. “It was a great opportunity to hear [her] peers’ creative works and to share [her] own favorites,” stated Wray.