When one envisions a poetry reading, the image that might come to mind is a dimly lit cafe filled with pretentious hipsters wearing black berets and coolly snapping their fingers when a fellow artist is finished ‘sharing.’
On Nov. 7, a group of UC Irvine students proved that poetry can flourish even under the florescent lighting of a classroom, and that it can be practiced and enjoyed by anyone.
The Poetry and Short Fiction Showcase allowed several young writers to share their work in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
Though a few readers were literary veterans, for many students, this showcase provided a first opportunity to share their writing.
Only three students had signed up to read their poems, but the lectern was later made available to anyone who wanted to share.
Many students took advantage of this offer, some enthusiastic, some reluctant.
An example of the latter category was the first reader of the evening, who introduced his poem by saying, ‘I was somehow coerced into this.’
The reading was intended to allow participants to display their literary finesse, as well as to inform undecided students about writing opportunities beyond introductory poetry and fiction courses, both in and out of the classroom.
Students who take an interest in creative writing may declare it as an emphasis.
Additionally, student writers, even those without literary career aspirations, are encouraged to submit their work to the New Forum, a quarterly undergraduate creative writing magazine.
Similarly, student playwrights may submit short theatrical pieces to Culture Shock Productions, a campus theater group, for an upcoming student showcase.
‘Some people may take [introductory courses] and develop an interest in writing, but then go off to become biology or political science majors,’ said Sara Joyce Robinson, a writing instructor who is pursuing an MFA in writing. ‘We want to hook them up with other organizations that casually meet.’
Robinson, who organized the event, was not discouraged that it drew only about 30 students.
‘The fall quarter reading is always smaller because there are less creative writing courses,’ Robinson said. ‘I like these readings because a lot of these students are just beginning to write. They’ve never read before. This is their first time.’
The topics of the poems and stories ranged from mathematical formulas for love to a late-night encounter with a drunken street musician.
Inebriation at the reading may not have been confined entirely to the content of the latter poem.
Zach Braun, a writing instructor who is also pursuing an MFA in writing, introduced one of his pieces as ‘a totally random sample, due to the beer I drank at the Pub before I came here.’
Braun’s story, entitled ‘When the Wife and Kids Leave,’ was written when he was an undergraduate.
It was the longest story of the evening, and it chronicled the narrator’s adventures with a talking rabbit named Roderick.
It is unclear if Braun was actually under the influence of alcohol during the reading, but he did stop often in the middle of his reading to reflect on how much his writing had improved since he had written the piece.
‘Jesus,’ Braun said at one point during the reading. ‘This is really
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