Poets at EMU: The Spoken Word is Alive on Campus

Students and staff at Eastern Mennonite University are growing in their passion for poetry. The past couple of weeks have encompassed times for our poets to express their thoughts, ideas, and hearts with the campus at events such as the Open Mic Night and the Haunted Poetry Reading.

Poetry may not be an art form heard of too frequently, compared to an art exhibit or the plays in Main Stage Theater. That does not stop the words from flowing from the hearts of these artists.

Poetry can take many forms. There are too many to name; however the more popular styles are free style, centered, rhyming, and long-poetry. These different types can express something another type may not be able to, and the style chosen is what the poet feels and is trying to get across.

“I enjoy various types of poetry, from standard lines of rhyme to slam poetry, free write, and all the intricate pieces in between,” expressed Senior Abigail Carr. Carr started to write poetry while in middle school. She was able to express her feelings about faith and life in general through the art. “It was a way for me to express what was sometimes a mess in my mind in a cathartic and semi-ordered fashion.”

Carr loves writing, but also enjoys reading others’ poetry to hear the dif- ferent tones and envisioning what the poet is trying to express. She loves the works of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Helen Steiner Rice, and Pablo Neruda. She enjoys the relatable, but nonsensical prose that Dickinson uses in her writing.

When Carr reads Whitman and Eliot, she is taken back to “simpler times when you could walk outside and the world seemed to stop.”

Mindy Esworthy, an EMU Senior, tells of her love for poetry. “I’m interested in all kinds of spoken word. It doesn’t matter to me if it rhymes or not, I just enjoy hearing it and visualizing what the author is telling us.”

Esworthy has always found writing significant in her life. She comments, “Naturally, I went through a poetry phase.” Being an Art Education Major, Esworthy finds art a more natural form of description. “It goes hand in hand with any work that I do. I can’t paint something without being able to talk about what it is, and poetry has always been that description outlet for me.”

Esworthy differs from Carr in that she would rather read or listen to someone’s else’s poetry than write her own. She is able to see someone more deeply through their.

“Someone else’s work is like an opening into them, into a part of them, and hearing that part visualized through their words is always amazing to me.” Esworthy also commented, “The whole world is poets, and I love them all.”

She reads the works of a variety of poets, from Dickinson to Keats and to any small children’s works; she has herself surrounded in the art.

Esworthy states, “All words have meaning and all are important, so why favor one over another?”

Another poet, staff member David Brennan, takes part in the poetry scene at EMU.

He compares his start in poetry with the White Stripes’ song, “I Fell In Love with a Girl.”

Brennan enjoys good poetry, which he explains as “the kind of poetry that is insignificant in relation to the poem’s ability to convey emotion and meaning in a pleasurable manner.

Be it prose poem or rhymed poem or free verse or sestina or some freaked-out nuance form, if the poem is firing on all pistons, I’ll read the sucker.”

Brennan writes and also reads other works. He says, “A good reader writes her reading atop another’s lines.”

He enjoys “those famous dead poets that loom over our poetic business of the day.”

He listed some living poets that he finds to be in line with his definition of good poetry including: Mary Ruefle, Anne Carson, Johannes Goransson, Susan Howe, Graham Foust, Zachary Schomburg, Heather Christle, and many more.

Poetry, the expression, is a way in which people show part of themselves and share with others.

-Alicia Calkins, Arts Editor


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