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April 11, 2017
Like most people, I enjoy poetry. I read — or at least try to — at least one a day. The rhythm and construction of the language in a great poem are always interesting to look at. I've memorized a few poems, my favorite being "The Destruction of Sennacherib" by Lord Byron, that are fun to recite to myself on an evening stroll or during lulls in conversations when I need to sort-of kind-of impress someone.
I must admit, though, that I don't very often listen to poetry being read out loud, unless the poem is the lyrics to a song. And, as we all know, all lyrics are poetry, but not all poetry is lyrics, so I'm missing out on a lot.
So I'm grateful that last week I had the opportunity to attend two poetry readings that featured up-and-coming poets who visited our campus.
It was part of the university's Poetry Festival, organized and hosted by English professor Brian Henry (whom I've had for Creative Writing class before, chill dude) and the English department. This itself is part of the larger 2016-2017 Writers Series, also put on by the English department, which featured insightful and provocative essayist and poet Roxane Gay last semester. As I alluded to earlier, the poets here for the festival have been recognized as emerging giants in the literary world — and it was really cool to see them in person.
On Tuesday evening, I headed over to the Brown-Alley Room in Weinstein to listen to two poets, Anaïs Duplan and Camille Rankin, recite. Some poems were from their books, which were available for purchase right there on the spot. It's certainly a different experience listening to a poem as opposed to reading it. The poet's literal voice provides inflections, emphases, and pronunciations profoundly different than the voice in my head ever would.
It was all free, of course — unless you wanted to purchase one of the visiting poets' books, which I did. I purchased Anaïs's new collection, Take This Stallion, and even got her to sign it for me. I would've bought the other ones, too, but y'all know the struggle.
The next night I went again to listen to three more poets: Chen Chen, Camille Rankine, and Peter LaBerge. As before, I was struck by how different of an experience it is to listen to a poem be read — it's almost theatrical. I appreciated, as well, that these poems were rather timely, if that makes any sense. As in, some of them pertained to issues seemingly specific to our day and age and provided some good food for thought about where our society is going.
All in all, I'm glad to have attended the Poetry Festival this year. Now that I think of it, perhaps I should've taken notes. After all, I'm going to have to recite some Shakespeare for my Journalism class in only a couple of weeks!
And yes, it has occurred to me that this is an About Me and I've neglected to tell you much about me. So I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place just south of Norfolk that's large enough to be a county but isn't because reasons. There's not much to do in Chesapeake other than going for a dip in the Great Dismal Swamp (ill-advised) or head to a neigboring town to hit the beach, and I think that's part of the reason I spent most of my earlier childhood holed up in my room reading books or playing Playstation.
I branched out in my high school years, though, and I've developed affinites for genealogy, running, film, and photography. I am not a man of many talents, though among them include the remarkable power to turn my thumb all the way backwards, the ablility to tell you almost everything you'd ever want to know about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which unfortunately has been declared non-canon, thanks to J.J. Abrams), and the astonishing skill to cook Minute Rice in 58 seconds. My playlist includes mostly oldies, and my favorite movies all came out before I was born. So you might say I'm a bit of a hipster. I've even got my own snazzy red Polaroid camera, which is practically a license to hipster in this day and age, right?
So, yeah, that's me. In conclusion, read on! Hope you enjoy my blog posts!
Why UR?I'm not a very decisive person. During my senior year of high school, I envied the kids who were certain straight from the get-go where they wanted to go to college. I had applied to several great schools that I thought could offer me a great education, but I had trouble picking which one was the best fit for me. I constantly held debates against myself, weighing the pros and the cons of each school in my head and occasionally and occasionally audibly voicing my concerns a la Gollum: "How about this one?" "No, no, too big. And too far away. Going back and forth to home could prove to be a real bummer." "Good point, but look at their alumni network! They could hook you up with a job fresh out of graduation!" "Ah, true, but check out these student reviews online. You really want to go to a place with this reputation?" "Do you believe everything you read in those reviews?" "Of course I do. They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true." And so on and so on. I still hadn't made a decision by mid-April, so the jury was still out on where I was going just two weeks before the deadline. Pressure from my parents and peers to choose just kept piling on heavier and heavier. Around this time I went to a Richmond Scholars visit, which afforded prospective students who'd been offered scholarships from the University the chance to get a glimpse of life as a student here. The visit was really what sealed the deal for me. The beautiful campus was a joy to explore even in the surprisingly sweltering spring heat. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class, which wasn't very big. Richmond's small class sizes allow for intimate discussions as opposed to drawling lectures and make it rather easy to develop close relationships with professors. I've found that most of them encourage you to meet with them in their spare time, something that might be more difficult to do at a larger institution. While at the Scholars visit, I talked with my host for hours. He gave me a bare bones, down-to-earth explanation of what he thought of Richmond. And I know it's a total cliche, but there's one thing he told me that I really think rings true here at Richmond and life in general: It can be a great and rewarding experience, but only if you put in the effort to make it one. Bottom line, I think Richmond gives students the resources needed to make their college years more than worthwhile, moreso than any other school I checked out. We've got top-notch academics to satisfy any hungry mind, we've got a plethora of extracurriculars to enjoy, tons of chances to broaden our horizons (literally and figuratively), and of course, we've got the chow at D-Hall. All that's really what made me want to spend the next four years of my life here.