The Student Reading Series (SRS) this past Thursday was nothing if not surprising. What else should one expect of a series that allows students to read anything in their fiction or poetry catalogues?
The three students who read in the New Library Auditorium were all exceptional poets. Their work came to life for the students sitting and listening intently to the well crafted works. However, while their work was extremely poignant, the afternoon also took some silly twists and turns. While the poems were sometimes solemn and thoughtful, others were humorous, and each student made sure to bring their own personality to the table.
Matt Sisco, a self-described “super-duper senior,” actually a sixth-year English major, was the first to present his poetry. Sisco’s opening poem, “First Time Dance Club Adventure,” was about a boy’s first time at KatManDu with his girlfriend. A poem that appeared initially to be about the popular Trenton night club turned out to be about the distinct aspects and passions that come with young love, evident in the line, “People stare, envious of our dance.”
Some of his other poetry was more humorous. A group of his poems called the “Receipt Tape Collection,” were written at his job at Stop & Shop on the back of receipt tape.
Others were just as intriguing, but revolved around philosophy and religion. While one poem, “If There Is God,” was inspiring, another set of poems on the same subject matter was easier for students to relate to. “Steam Songs” were poems “dedicated to the steam in front of the student center,” according to Sisco. One of the most profound lines in this series was, “I picture God in the steam, indefinable, chaotic, beautiful, inspiring.”
Joe Rooney, senior English major, read poetry full of tongue-twisting rhymes that were so frequent, the audience had to stare intently at his mouth to understand what he was saying. It was well worth it though. His poetry was engaging and interesting, addressing large, common questions about life. To lighten the slightly awkward moments in between poems, Rooney made sure to have the audience yell “Yeah, son!” whenever he completed a poem simply by raising his fist.
“Outside the Lines” was reflective of the freedom so many adolescents crave, peppered with engaging lines like, “When we were born, we weren’t defined.” Other touching poems, like “Soul Quest” and “Life Out of a Backpack,” were inspired by his adventures while backpacking through Europe. “Soul Quest,” as Rooney said before he began, relayed how people can “make a difference” simply by speaking to someone who needs someone else to listen.
Soon, Rooney’s sense of fun began to spill out. “Rough Draft” was a poem that was full of rhymes – and was also five minutes long. After that intense reading, he had a friend of his come up from the audience to help him with his final two poems. As his friend donned sunglasses and played a bongo, he changed his shirt and wore his own pair of sunglasses, half-reciting, half-rapping a poem dedicated to Life Water, and another entitled “Snooze Button,” dedicated to the love-hate relationship students have with the dangerous alarm clock function.
Josh Page, senior English major, brought yet another original style to the reading. Some of his poems were about small experiences that have more impact on people’s lives than they realize sometimes. Others, like “Egg Salad” were inspired by his restaurant job.
His work became somber as he read “Hydroplaning.” Told from the perspective of a rejected speaker, it concluded with him letting go of life, letting his car skid through a pool of water and take him where it may.