They wrote about nature, childhood memories, civil rights, an airplane passing overhead, love--whatever inspired them. Then they had the courage to get up in front of an audience to read their work--poetry.
About 12 student poets were brave enough to take part in this semester's Poetry Open Mic session, which was held Wednesday (March 7) during student activity period in the PeoplesBank room of the Kittredge Center.
"In a lot of ways, writing poetry is a private thing," said HCC English professor David Champoux, who is also a creative writing advisor and one of the organizers of the event. "For people to get up and voice it, it's meaningful to them."
In the past, Champoux said, the poetry open mic events were sometimes held in the vast Forum theater, which can sometimes be intimidating. "There's something about a small venue that encourages people to get up who might not want to walk up those stairs," he said.
All a student had to do to participate was put their name on a list. Alexsandria Watts went first, reading a poem called "She Feels," written, she said, during a difficult time in her life. Dylan Elliott, half of a two-man rap group called Too Tight, performed several poems in rap style, including two about esoteric subjects of impermanence and misfortune.
Bill Wieliczka read a poem he wrote called "Crossroads" he said started as an exercise for the HCC Creative Writing group he belongs too, which he noted more than once, "meets every Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Donahue 306." He also read a poem he said was his first ever, written after fleeing Europe for the Middle East, where he wound up in the desert, riding a camel named Bob Marley.
"Sometimes when life is crazy," he said by way of introduction, "it will throw you a nugget of what it's all about."
Veronica Gibson read a couple of pieces inspired by her observations in the classroom. Robert Herrick wrote about nature, including one, "The Clearing of a Winter Ashened Moon," he noted is on the web site for Pulp City, HCC's literary magazine at pulpcity.wordpress.com:
A powered mist of grey
covering over a near
full-shaped moon in
a cold clouded sky
holds a faded light
as the clouds are ashened
in color and passing by.
Watts, Elliott and Wieliczka all earned first place honors for their readings and won $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble. Champoux noted that he hopes all the participants will take away positive memories of the experience. " Twenty years from now," said Champoux, "they'll be reading a poem and they'll say, I wrote a poem once. In the back of their minds, they will remember: ‘I stood up in a room and read a poem that I wrote.' I just think it is something that will be meaningful to them."
Photos: (Left) Alexsandria Watts reads one of her poems. (Right) Rapper Dylan Elliott performs one of his poems.