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The Blue & Gray Press | August 23, 2019

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Class shares contemporary poetry

Thursday Poems Nicole Contrino


Students of Mara Scanlon’s Contemporary Poetry class got the chance to perform their favorite works of those they studied this semester at last Thursday’s poetry reading. Thirteen students and four professors met in the lobby of 1201 William Street to hear the poems read by eight students from Scanlon’s class.

Every Thursday, in either Combs 139 or 1201 William Street Mansion, the UMW English Linguistics and Communication department holds poetry readings that are open to the public. Starting around 5 p.m. till around 5:30 p.m., these poetry readings allow students a chance to relax and enjoy some good poetry from either a visitor, a student or faculty member.

“I think it’s a nice break at the end of the week for people to center themselves and learn a little bit about poetry,” said English professor Amanda Rutstein.

Last Thursday’s poetry reading consisted of eight UMW students reading poetry from the poets they had studied in their 371 Contemporary Poetry class. Starting out by announcing that it was poetry month, the first student, junior English major Upma Kapoor began with “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop, the first poet the class had studied this semester.

The readings continued down the line of students. Each was very different and seemed to represent a little something about the student. The poems, quite literally, varied from speaking about saving a fish, to discussing the Civil Rights Movement, and varied as much in length as in subject matter.

While the poems seemed to speak to the personality of the reader, they were given a list to choose from. According to senior English major Sarah Foote, the poems were listed online in a Google doc, and students signed up for the poems they preferred.
Foote read two poems, “Footnote to Howl,” by Allen Ginsberg, and “Returning the Borrowed Road,” by Yusef Komunyakaa. The students read 17 other poems, by nine different poets.