Poetry slam captures past and present

On Thursday Oct. 16, MiNT Magazine, along with sponsors CAS and the Student Association hosted the Living and Dead Poetry Slam in the College Union Ballroom.

The event combined the "dead" poetry of deceased writers like Yeats, Shakespeare and Wordsworth with the "alive" voices of current Geneseo slam poets such as seniors James Merenda, Dan Freund and Jenni Sussell, as well as sophomores Julie McMahon and Deborah Bertlesman.

Merenda, for example, presented surrealist imagery and a compelling sense of honesty in his verses, followed by the rhymes of hip-hop artist and senior Nabil Vargha who, according to junior Elle Bryan, "represents the more contemporary branch that poetry has traveled."

Senior Patrick Morgan beautifully recited the poetry of both William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth, including excerpts from "Hamlet" and the Wordsworth poem "My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold." According to Catherine Martini, "He added a certain classical appeal that gave the more experimental stuff some historical ground."

The slam poetry presented throughout the night focused on a variety topics, mostly concerning the manipulation of language with heavy political and societal themes. Freund's poems, for example, called for "kids to rule the world" and breaking down parts of speech through poetics.

Merenda's "Place of Shelter" addressed the forgotten greatness of social activists, while Sussell ended one piece by urging the audience to vote for Sen. Barack Obama as president.

Sophomore Ingamar Dion Ramirez added something special to the event by reciting an original poem entitled "Plumes of Peace," which addressed the shrinking hope for a safe world.

Sophomore Jackson Maloney said he "thought the variety of performances were really entertaining." English professor Tom Greenfield added acoustic folk music to the evening of poetry, addressing some unexpected subjects that often poked fun at his family and colleagues.

MiNT Magazine plans to host a poetry slam competition in the spring that other SUNY colleges such as Oneonta and New Paltz have showed interest in attending.

Junior Nolan Guiffre, president of Niagara University's Poetry Society said, "I think it's great that Geneseo is getting into the whole slam thing."