BY KAYLYN HASLUND
For the UAS Whalesong
Poetry is a form of writing, a form that seems to be getting less and less attention as time goes by. However, it is poetry that the Egan Library has chosen to be celebrated on our campus. In concert with April as National Poetry Month, Beatrice Franklin, one of the Egan Library’s librarians, has organized what she calls Poetry Cafés. The first was on the April 7, but the next one will be on April 21.
The event consisted of myself, alongside a small group of others, sitting outside of the library, right across from Spikes Café, and reading poetry aloud to each other.
This was a great and calming experience, as it was a group of people who were open to conversation. We also discussed forms while doing this, such as kennings and reading tempo, so it was also a great learning experience. It was refreshing to just sit down for an hour and a half to talk about poetry in a group. And if you don’t want to read, you don’t have to! It’s not a required part of the event, merely an option. It’s an open space where you can really just come and sit to hear people read their work. I, personally, didn’t read anything aloud and had a good time. So, if you’re not comfortable with public speaking or sharing your work you can just stop by and check it out. You could probably even ask someone else to read your work if you were looking for some feedback.
If you want to learn certain forms, I’m sure that those of us at the group would be willing to discuss and teach. We were able to sit and talk with one another about what we were doing with our work as well as our favorite poets. It was an open discussion of people who wanted to talk and read poetry.
You can bring any poetry you want; it can be from your favorite poet or your own work, you can also bring as many pieces as you want. It’s a pretty chill environment that’s flexible to the participants needs. It also appears to be attended by people who are happy to discuss poetry and help people with where to go with their pieces.
If you do enjoy reading aloud however, you can practice reading your work or read a new draft to get some relaxed feedback/constructive criticism. You’ll be in a calm environment where everybody’s just there to discuss and meet others who write. I know I’d be really happy to help others with their pieces, even if it’s outside of this group. Which is something else extremely nice about this event.
The event does have a bit of an ulterior motive, however: it stands to connect writers on our campus with the greater Juneau community. It’s building a whole new community that wasn’t there before. I’m sure that this could become a normal event if there was enough response.
It’s also away from the classroom setting of a workshop, which while I love. It’s much more open and less confined to what makes up a workshop. You don’t even have to go in to the event for criticism.
These new Poetry Cafés offer a short amount of time that allows for several people to meet and discuss poetry, even if it isn’t their own work. So, if it piques your interest, maybe you would like to stop by at the next one, because it’s open to anyone who wants to stop by even for a short amount of time. There will be food and fun creative reading going on and everyone is welcome to the low-key event. If you’re looking to just relax for a short amount of time or just share some pieces, the next date is April 21. Come on by and see what UAS has got going on!