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20th Annual Fourth-Year Poetry Reading showcases student talent, personalities

Arts and Entertainment reviews an annual springtime event put on by English department

On Monday, the University Bookstore opened its doors to poetry lovers, friends, professors, and teaching assistants for the 20th Annual Fourth-Year Poetry Reading.

There were several adults in attendance, but students comprised the majority of the audience. During the hour-long event, the audience met fifteen graduating fourth-years, each of whom read two to three of their original works.

Additionally, people in attendance received the bound, soft cover book, "4," now in its third year of publication. "4" is a collection of fourth-year writing, not limited to solely English majors, including both short fiction and poetry.

With each reader, the audience met an entirely new perspective, meter, and personality. Despite the large audience, the readers felt comfortable enough to be themselves. However, despite most of their humorous opening statements and comments, they all fell back on a monotone, languid, flattened vocal tone as they read.

"For those of you who are easily offended, I apologize in advance," fourth-year College student Michael Baruch said, starting off the event. He laughed as he announced he was going to recite some of his poems that spoke on people in the audience.

Mackenzie Campbell spoke next, charming the audience as she sheepishly giggled and said "Don't look at me." After Campbell recited a particularly powerful love poem called "Hanker" the audience snapped their approval. Upon hearing the snaps, she said "Oh! ... I hate that."

Alyssa Chng followed with her poems "Pregnancy," "Touched with Fire," and "Time Capsule." All of which included very relatable sensory imagery. She called "Time Capsule," her "little ode to Singapore."

Next, Joanna Currey introduced herself as a serious poet, but said she was reading the "two funniest poems [she had] in an attempt to entertain." She read "Self Portrait with Hair" and "Champagne," and they certainly did entertain.

Liz Desio followed with a particularly powerful and aggressive poem called "The Other Artist."

"How do I sum it up in a few words?... I write a lot about dead deer," Sarah Hart said humorously as she introduced herself.

Then Bucky Henry took the mike and became the first person of the night to read a story from his iPhone. Afterwards, he pulled out a folded paper announcing, "I got a poem, too."

Monica Mohapatra read poems that broke out of the realms of literature and experience. She addressed pop culture, explaining that she just had to write about Drake.

Claire Mueller, one of the coordinators of the event, read and mentioned to the audience, "If you have any edits, let me know."

Sally Nobinger brought in poetry about her experience traveling abroad in Ireland and a piece on the University’s Fralin Museum.

The next poet, Nora Toh, revealed another side of herself in her performance. "If you know me I don't cuss but it has the f-word in it...I had to read it," she said.

Corey Turner and Lauralee Yeary ended the show, Turner with poems about child psychology and Yeary, who let the audience know there was lipstick smudged on the paper she was reading from, for "extra effect."

However unimpressive the tones of the readers became throughout their individual performances, this event allowed everyone to learn more about the fourth-year poetry majors, both through their poems and through the way they introduced themselves. While not everyone in the publication "4" read, having the chance to put faces and voices to the texts is a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and community members alike.


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