Students express themselves through poetry at annual event

(PHOTO/ Tori Bedsole)
(PHOTO/ Tori Bedsole)
Student reads poem aloud at annual poetry reading event hosted by the English department.
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Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

The Troy University English department held its annual poetry reading event on Tuesday in the library.

The event is organized in observance of National Poetry Month and coincides with the release of the Alabama Literary Review.

There was an open mic for anyone interested to read out poems they had either come across or written themselves. Students and faculty read aloud poems written by Robert Frost, Alfred Tennyson and Alfred Housman, among others.

Patricia Waters, an associate professor of English, said the event went as she expected.

“(The event) is all about the students and not any pre-conceived notions about what it is supposed to be,” Waters said.

Many students read out poems they had written expressing their thoughts, and Waters said the sense of being present is what drew people to the event.

Jasmyne Johnson, a senior English language arts education major from Montgomery, was enthusiastic about the platform the poetry reading event provided for students to express themselves through poems and enjoyed listening to original pieces.

“Everybody has a wall and you cannot see who they really are and what they really feel,” she said. “I enjoyed this event because when you read poetry that comes from you, it comes from an inward place and that requires transparency.”

She said she enjoyed watching people her age being transparent, which she considers is “. . . the thing missing in this generation.”

Johnson read two poems, one of which she wrote herself titled “Black or American,” which she had written in her theory and practicum class.

Johnson said she wrote it for a project she did on African American “double consciousness.”

“Double consciousness” is a term coined by civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois to describe how African Americans would view their personal identity—not seeing who they really are, but what others think they are.

Johnson’s second poem was by Lucille Clinton titled “Homage to my hips.”

Some students called for more events like this to be organized.

“It’s nice to see events like this happen on campus; I wish they happened more often,” said Kalen Busby, a senior English education major from Wetumpka.

Waters shared her plans to grow the event next year, which is to invite a poet to campus to do a residency.

Other poems read in the event included, “To an Athlete Dying Young,” by Housman, which was read by Peter Howard, the chair of the department of modern language and classics.

‘The Road not taken,’ by Frost was the last poem read out at the event.