Students filled Mind and Hearth, the coffee shop in the Hixson Union Building, on the evening of Nov. 15, 2011, for Poetry and Pie. At this event put on by the English department, students and faculty alike recited both original and favorite poetry, while dining on pie. The reciting poets were all volunteers who had signed up for the event and submitted a short biography about themselves, detailing the history of their writing careers, their favorite poets and poems, and their favorite flavor of pie.
Before the speakers began to recite, they were introduced to the audience with their biography. Nearly all the poets named something different as their inspiration.
“I usually start with broken things,” said Thomas Caraway, the first reader of the night and English lecturer at Whitworth. "It's an awesome event. I love being able to see what my students, current and former, are up too, and what Whitworth is doing in terms of poetry. And poetry is totally awesome."
Following Caraway were several students. Some of the readers said they had never been to a poetry reading before, while others said they had recited their work many times.
The poems covered many subjects, from chickens to drug abuse to oranges falling into a pool.
While most students shared original work they had written, others read their favorite poems by authors such as T. S. Elliot and Robert Frost.
“My poetry comes out of conversation,” said Blaine Eldredge, a junior who read at the event. “It comes out of the sounds words make. I like things said out loud and I love stories, mine and others. Because there are poems that become poems when they're spoken aloud. You're meant to share them. And that act of sharing is beautiful.”
The audience, which filled nearly every inch of space on the half of the coffee shop near the fireplace, was very interactive, applauding loudly for all of the readers. Some readers, such as junior Matthew Comi, insisted on audience interaction, asking the viewers to stand up and repeat a line.
"I liked it because a lot of times I think of poetry as something produced by emotional 13-year-old girls in their basements,” senior Aubrey Beard said. “It was really cool to hear my peers counter that stereotype. My favorite part was hearing Thom Caraway read at the beginning."
The readers were chosen because they volunteered after hearing about it through emails and advertisements of the English department and Westminster Round. After the deadline to sign up, they were emailed the order they were scheduled to read in. Each poet was limited to reading only two poems. Length, genre and subject content did not matter.
As the poets were reading, pie was available on a counter in the back. Along with having the seasonal favorite pumpkin pie, traditional flavors of apple and cherry were served, as well as a chocolate pie.
By Kelly Johnson