Writers showcase work during poetry week

(Steph Burt read from her boo "Advice in the Light." By Madison Rosbach)

By Allison Wharton

Asst. Arts & Features Editor

Nadira Wicaksana

Staff Writer

Framingham State hosted their first annual poetry week in whuch  professors read their works. The week will end with a poetry slam on Friday night at Sandella’s

“Poetry Reading by Steph Burt and Rachel Trousdale”

Poetry week kicked off with readings by professors Rachel Trousdale and Stephanie Burt on Tuesday Oct. 17 in the Alumni Room.

Burt is an English professor at Harvard University and friend of Trousdale. They bonded at Yale University over modern poetry.

The two both read poems from their collections as well as newer, unpublished works.

Trousdale began with a reading from her 2015 poetry collection, “Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone.” The first work she read, “Five-Paragraph Essay on the Body-Mind Problem,” is an aptly named five paragraph work, inspired by reading numerous essays by her students.

She read her newest poem, “The Reef,” which was met with cheers and great applause. According to Trousdale, the poem was inspired by the destruction of coral reefs, as well as their resilience.

“We don our masks and flippers, and we dive into an element not our own,” Trousdale read.

Trousdale said to read a work for the first time is “one of the greatest treats a writer can have.”

Burt read from her recently published poetry collection, “Advice from the Lights.”

She opened her presentation by asking the audience, “How many people are X-Men fans?” to which many enthusiastically raised their hands.

Burt’s poem, “Self-Portrait as Kitty Pryde,” the first in a series called “Keepers,” served as a reference to her own background and upbringing.

Burt read, “I am always going through some phase. … My wide eyes & Jewish hair are shyness, a challenge to artists, & untouchable.”

Burt’s other works also drew from her life as a transgender woman and how she’s been impacted by the current political situation. Her own never-before-shared poem, “Sparrows in the Natick Collection,” is an allegory for the 2016 presidential election.

“I am visible but not heard / Nothing you can do can make us leave.”

Trousdale said poetry is “the meaning of life. It speaks to us on levels we don’t understand.”

Sophomore Yael Rothman said, “For me, Burt’s poem about her childhood, especially as a trans person,” spoke to them on a personal level.

Senior Hope Singas said, “My class has been reading older poetry. It is nice to compare it with modern poetry.”

Authors and Artists

The second event took place in the Ecumenical Center on Oct. 18.

The event was a part of the Authors and Artists series. It featured a reading from English professor Sam Witt and a presentation by professor Bartholomew Brinkman.

Witt read poems from his collection, “Little Doomsday Clock.”

He mentioned the collection featured subtweets from his Twitter account. “It’s a lyric which streams through the book.”

Witt’s poem, “Frankenstein,” used phrases from the Mary Shelley novel and “stitched them together” to create a piece with “ecological overtones.”

He also referred to science and genetics in the poem, “Starter Pistols.”

He read, “The people are missing chromosomes / Where do chromosomes go to die?”

Witt joked between poem readings, “This is grim, but it is called ‘Little Doomsday Clock.’”

Brinkman presented on his book, “Poetic Modernism in the Culture of Mass Print,” and the process of getting the book to publication.

The book focused on the intersection of mass culture and print culture in modern poetry.

Mass culture refers to the culture within a time period. For his book, the time period refers to 1880 – 1960, or the modernist period in the U.S. and U.K.

Brinkman said he characterized culture through shifts in politics, society, labor, art and transportation.

He then studied the process of the history of printing literature and “how culture is shaped by print.”

His advice to students for finding inspiration is to “teach yourself about the topic and find what you can contribute to it.”

Brinkman said the book was 10 years in the making, with his first draft being his graduate dissertation.

He also recalled the times the book was denied.

“It happens,” he joked.

Senior Colin MacEacheron said, “I got insight to method, process and creativity as well as new ways to look at the world.”

Brinkman said, “It is important for us to think about process. It gives an opportunity for people who are new to poetry a way in. … Good scholarship and teaching correlate. I think it is important to show that.”

Witt said, “Everything is about the students. It is terrifying to share your work to the public, but I love it.

“The world is always beginning and ending when you’re writing,” he added.

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