There’s no shortage of poetry opportunities for Gannon University students on campus or in the surrounding Erie community.
“There’s a strong, vibrant poetry community in Erie,” Berwyn Moore, an adjunct lecturer at Gannon said. This community leads to a lot of different chances to get involved.
One of the easiest ways to involve yourself with poetry is on campus, with Gannon’s annual literary magazine, Totem, open to student submissions. Submissions include art, poetry and all kinds of writing, Carol Hayes, Totem adviser and associate teaching professor in the English department, said.
The whole process of Totem is about promoting creativity among the entire student body, Hayes said.
“It’s always fun to see freshmen have their work accepted because there’s upperclassmen submitting and the thought that they’d never see theirs accepted,” Hayes said. “But guess what, it happens!”
One student who has submitted to Totem in the past confirmed what Hayes said.
“Once I got the email back that I was being accepted, I felt pretty proud of myself,” Madalyn Westfall, a senior history major, said.
The publication is open to submissions from any students, faculty and alumni until Nov. 26. Students can send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another option to share poetry with the community is with the weekly Poetry Night. Poetry Night is an open-microphone poetry reading held every Tuesday at Calamari’s Squid Row, on State Street, starting at 6:30 p.m. Most nights, there’s even a featured poet, Charles Joy, 2019 Erie County poet laureate, said. Tuesday there was a featured poet from Clarion.
Once the featured poet – if there is one – finishes his or her presentation, there’s a 20-minute intermission, Laura Rutland, head of the English department at Gannon, said. Once the break is over, the open mic session begins.
At these sessions, there are all types of poetry and people. “It’s varied in the kinds of poetry there and the people who read,” Rutland said about her experiences at Calamari’s.
Some of the poetry is very spoken word in style, and others are more formal and traditional, Rutland said.
The poetry doesn’t have to be original, either, to take the mic, Joy said. His goal is self-expression through poetry.
An annual group photo will be taken Monday for any self-identified poets in the area, along with Joy. Joy hosts this event, at the Blasco Library in the H.O. Hirt Auditorium and with two open-mic poetry sessions.
“It’ll be the fourth one actually,” Joy said.
Joy is also working with the public library for several other events and readings throughout the year – the last event planned for May involves health care and poetry, combined in a workshop.
A lot of this he does for the students, at all levels, he said. As poet laureate, he wants to see poetry written and shared within the community.
“I feel, I believe poetry is kind of an oral art,” Joy said. “I don’t think a poem is complete until it’s shared out loud. Without an audience doesn’t count.
“I provide that mic.”