Poetry Out Loud (POL)

[NOISE] All right hello everyone. We’re going to get started. People are still trickling in, but I think we’re pretty much at max capacity
here right now which is always good. So welcome to the third Annual Poetry Out
loud final competition. I’m Justin Hackett, and
this is Abigail Droge. And we’re just a couple of members,
from the Poetry About Me. And we thank you all for coming. First since the impact of this evening
greatly depends upon the sound and listening, we’d like to ask everyone right
now to please take out your cell phones, and turn them off. Especially because we’re
recording as well. So it would be really nice,
if you don’t interrupt anyone. Okay. So the purpose of this evening is to
return to poetry’s roots, to return to a vocal experience, that creates even if
only temporarily a community of listeners. As American poet Lucille Clifton once
said, poetry began when somebody walked up a savannah, or out of a cave, and
looked up at the sky with wonder and said. [LAUGH] That was the first poem. The urge towards is very human. It’s in everybody. She said. To make them, we’re all going back to
the savannah to find that making poetry, again, an event that is unique and
fleeting.>>For the last two years, Poetry Out Loud
has been a wonderful success. The poem selections have ranged. Geographically across the anglophone world
and temporarily from Shakespeare half the millenia ago, will know the
contemporary poets who are still living. This year we are excited to present
a dynamic program, that includes things such as classics, alongside those
from the renaissance and poets who have ranged from the German towards
To San Franciscan native Sharon Olds. We invite you to reflect on the awes,
that each performer makes. Which will challenge us to think
of poetry a little differently. The emphasis tonight therefore,
is on words and voices. [NOISE] More Stanford students
entered the qualifying round than ever before this year. And we wish we could have
included them all tonight. But, rest assured that the ten
finalists before you this evening, have endured some very tough
competition from their colleagues. This year’s try-outs again confirmed that
poetry is alive and well at Stanford, and that interest in poetry knows
no degree or disciplinary boundary. As you’ll see from your program. And we especially welcome back
our friends from the sciences. [LAUGH] You’re giving us, Vanity Spokes,
a run for our money, literally. In fact tonight’s top prizes are $400,
$250 and $150, which I’m sure will make everything
just a little more exciting. [LAUGH]
>>So before we begin, some thank yous are in order as
always to the Stanford English and creative writing departments,
for making tonight possible. Especially Gavin Jones, Eavan Boland,
Judy Kendall, Laura Mott, Nicole Bridges, Katy Duling,
wherever she went. She was in the back. Anyway, Katie Dooley,
wherever she is in spirit. [LAUGH] Christina Ablaza and
everyone in the English Department and capacity helped promote that. We’d also like to thank our committee
members who are here tonight. Mary Kim, Linda Lou, Brooke Lasend, and Sarah Weston for
their help in putting together tonight. And last but not least, we’d like to thank
our illustrious judge who we have with us. Keith Ekis, esteemed lecturer and poetry
here in the creative writing department, and former [INAUDIBLE] in poetry. And now, unfortunately is the time to make
the announcement that the other judge, Terri Castle, has caught the flu.>>Uh-huh.
>>And she is not here today tonight. So we wished her well in her recovery and
she’ll be missed.>>so, now we want to get
the competition started, so we’ll introduce each competitor. That will be his or
her cue to come to the front of the room. And they have memorized their poems, but they have an assistant help
them if they forget a line. So the assistant will sit over there
where the pink reserved tag is. When all ten finalists have
performed the judges will, there’s a judge will retire
to make his decision. And the rest of us will help ourselves
to refreshments [INAUDIBLE]. When he reenters we will again, take our seats and he will offer
some feedback on your performances. And then if there are three winners. So without further ado,
please find a comfortable position. Open your ears, and
let’s get the competition started. So please welcome to the front of
the room our first performer, Monica Tiu. Monica is a sophomore in psychology, and she will be performing An Almost
Made Up Poem by Charles Bukowski. [SOUND].>>Hi guys. So I chose this poem because it’s actually
being [INAUDIBLE] and also for me. It’s really personally to reveal
your body to someone, but I feel that it speaks the same
way to reveal your heart. I see you. Drinking at a fountain with,
tiny blue hands. No, your hands are not tiny. They are small. And the fountain is in France, where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and. Never heard from you again. You used to write insane
poems about Angels and God. All in uppercase. And you knew famous artists, and
most of them were your lovers. And I wrote back. It’s all right. Go ahead, enter their lives. I’m not jealous, because we’ve never met. We got close once in New Orleans. One half block. Never met, never touched. So you wait with the famous,
and wrote about the famous. And of course, what you found out is, that
the famous are worried about their, fame. Not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that. And then awakens in the morning to write uppercase poems about Angels and God. [INAUDIBLE] They’d told us, but listening to you I wasn’t sure. You were one of the best female poets and
I told the publishers, editors, print her, print her, she’s mad. But she’s magic. There’s no lie in her fire. I loved you, like a man loves a woman. Never touching his, only tries to. Keeps little photographs of,
I would have loved you more. I had sat in a small
room rolling a cigarette. And listened to you piss in the bathroom. That didn’t happen. The letters got sadder. Your lovers betrayed you. Kid, I wrote back, all lovers betray. It didn’t help. You said you had a crying bench, and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat. On the crying bench every night and
wept, for the lovers who had hurt and forgotten you. I wrote back but never heard again. A friend wrote me of your suicide,
three or four months after it happened. If I met you,
I would probably been unfair to you, or. You to me. It was best like this. [APPLAUSE].>>Thank you, Monica. Next we have Paul Carol, a junior
in the computer science department. Who will be performing Actor from T.S.
Eliot’s The Love Song J Alfred Prufrock. And if people by the door can
sort of filter in to the cluster, if there’s anyone standing.>>So I fell in love with
with our quarter [LAUGH]. With a girl who lives on my floor,
and I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know how to ask her out. It seems like a very like
evolutionary thing to be able to do, like ask someone out,
but I didn’t know how. [LAUGH] So what I did was,
I took this poem, and I wrote it all out on pieces of
printer paper, and it actually took up. The eight sheets, they’re printer paper,
and I put them on my drawers so that every time I would go into
my room I would see this poem and I would be ashamed of myself for
not having asked her out. [LAUGH] I did eventually ask her out and
she said no. [LAUGH] I think the important lesson
of my poem is that what matters, ultimately, is being able to presume. And being able to begin. So this is The Love Song of
J Alfred Prufrock by J S Eliot. Let us go then, you and I. When the evening is spread across the sky
like a patient [INAUDIBLE] upon a table. Let us go through certain
half deserted streets, the mothering retreats of restless nights,
and one night cheap hotels and
sawdust restaurants with oyster shells. Streets that follow like a tedious
argument of insidious intents to lead you to an overwhelming question. Well, do not ask what is this? Let us go and make our visit. In the room, the women come and
go talking of Michel Angelo. And indeed,
there will be time to wonder, do I dare. And, do I dare? Time to turn back into sun and stare with
a bald spot in the middle of my hair. They will say,
Howard’s hair is growing thin. My morning coat, my collar mounting
firmly to the chin, my necktie rich and modest, but. Asserted by a simple pin. They will say, but
how his legs and arms are thin. Do I dare to serve the universe? In a minute, there is time for
decisions and revisions. Which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already. Known them all. Have known the evenings,
mornings, afternoons. I have measured out my
life with coffee spoons. I know the voice is dying, with the dying fall beneath
the music from a farther room. So, how should I presume? And I have known the eyes all ready,
known them all. The eyes that fix you
in a formulated phrase. And when I am formulated,
sprawling on a pin. When I am pinned and
wriggling on the wall, then how should I begin to spit out
all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how shall I presume? That I have known the arms already,
known them all. Arms that are white and soft and bare, but in the lamp light,
downed with light brown hair. It’s a perfume from a dress
that makes me so digress. Arms that lie along a table,
or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin? Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through
narrow streets and watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men in
shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across
the floors of silent seas. And in afternoon,
the evening sleeps so peacefully. Asleep, quiet or it malingers. Here on the floor,
stretched beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes, and ices have the strength to force
the moment to its crisis? But do I wept and fasted, wept and prayed, though I have seen my head going
slightly bald brought in a pot of clatter. I am not a prophet, and
here’s no great matter. I have seen the moment
of my greatness flicker. And I have seen the internal
footmen hold my coat, and snicker. And in short, I was afraid. Then would it have been
worth it after all? After the cups the marmalade, the tea. Among the porcelain. Among some talk of you and me. Would it have been worthwhile to have
bitten off the matter with a smile. To squeeze the universe into a ball, to
roll it towards an overwhelming question. To say, I am Lazarus come from the dead,
come back to tell you all. I shall tell you all. If one. Setting a pillow by your head should say,
that is not what I meant at all. That is not it at all. No, I am not Prince Hamlet,
nor was meant to be. Am an attendant lord,
one that will do to swell a progress, start a scene or two, advise the prince. No doubt, an easy tool. Differential, glad to be of use,
politic, cautious and meticulous, full of high sentence but
a bit obtuse. At times, indeed,
almost ridiculous, almost, at times, the fool. I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers,
rolled. ‘Till I part my hair behind. Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers and
walk along the beach. I have heard the mermaid singing,
each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them, riding seaward on
the ways, combing the white hairs.>>[COUGH]
>>The wave blown back when the wind blows the water whites and
black. We have lingered in
the chambers of the sea. My sea girl’s wreathed with seaweed,
red and brown. So human voices wake us, and we drown. [APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you. And next we have
Elliott Williams who is a junior in the African and
African-American studies program and he will be performing Let America Be
American Again, by Langston Hughes. [APPLAUSE].>>So,
Langston Hughes wrote this poem in 1935 it’s important because it talks
about the fundamental standard on which we base all American life,
and that’s the American Dream. It’s sort of our, our goal, the thing
that we worked for and the thing that we. Try to rectify in all, in all,
in all of our choices but the problem that he faced then,
and the problem that we still face now is that the American dream
is not an equal opportunity provider. So, this is Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes. Let America be America again.Let
it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain,
seeking a home where he himself is free. America never was America to me. Let America be the dream
the dreamers dreamed. Let it be that great strong land of
love where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme,
that any man be crushed by one above. It never was America to me. Oh, let my land be a land where Liberty is
crowned with no false patriotic wreath, but opportunity is real, and life is free. Equality is in the air we breathe. There’s never been equality for me. No freedom in this homeland of the free. Say, who are you that
mumbles in the dark and who are you that pulls your
veil across the stars. I am the poor,
white fool been pushed apart. I am negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from this land. I am the immigrant clutching
the hope I seek and finding only the same old stupid plan of
dog eat dog and mighty crush the weak. I am the young man full of strength and of hope, tamed with that ancient,
endless chain of profit, power, gain, of grab the land, of grab the gold,
of grab the ways of satisfying need. Of work the man take the pay. Of owning everything for ones own greed. I am the farmer bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold as a machine. I am the negro serving to you all. I am the people humble, hungry, mean. Hungry yet today despite the dream,
beaten yet today. Oh, pioneer,
I’m the man that never got ahead, the poorest worker bartered
through the years. Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic
dream in the Old World while still a serf of kings. A, who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, that even yet
its might daring sings in every brick and stone, in every furrow turn that’s
made America the land it has become. Oh, I’m the man who sailed those early
seas in search of what I meant to be my home Yes, I’m the man who
left dark Ireland’s shore and Poland’s plain and England’s grassy lea. And torn from Black Africa’s strand,
I came to build a homeland of the free. The free? Who said the free? Not me, surely not me. The millions on relief today. The millions shot down when we strike. The millions who have nothing for our pay. For all these dreams we’ve dreamt and
all the songs we’ve sung. All this, all the hopes we’ve held,
all the flags we’ve hung. For the millions with nothing for our pay,
except the dream that’s almost dead today. Let America be America again. The land that never has been yet,
and yet must be. The land where every man is free. The land that is mine. The poor man’s, Indians,
Negroes, me, who made America. Whose sweat and blood,
whose faith and pain. Who’s hand at the foundry, who’s plow in the rain must bring
back our mighty dream again. So, call me any ugly name you choose,
the steel of freedom does not stand. From those who live like
leeches on the people’s lives, we must take back our land again America. Oh yes I say it plain. America has never been America to me. And yet, I swear this oath,
America will be. Out of the wrath and ruin out of our gates
of death, the rape and rock of graft and self and lies, we the people must
redeem the land, the minds, the. Plants the rivers, the mountains,
and the endless plains. All, all the stretch of these great green
states, and bring back America again. Thank you.>>[APPLAUSE].>>It was simply enchanting so I decided to bring some of that magic here ready.Tulips by Sylvia Plaque. The tulips are too excitable. It is winter here. Look how wide everything is. How quiet, how snowed in. I am living peacefulness
lying by myself quietly. As a light lies on these white walls,
this bed, these hands. I am nobody. I have nothing to do with explosions. I have given my name, in my day clothes, up to the nurses, and my history with
the anesthetist, and my body to surgeons. They have propped my head
between the pillow and the sheet cotton,
like an eye between two wide lids. That will not shut. Stupid pupil,
it has to take everything in. Nurses pass and pass. They are no trouble. They pass the way goals pass,
and lend in their white caps. Doing things with their hands,
one just the same as another. So it is impossible to tell. How many there are. My body is a pebble to them. They tend it as water tends to
the pebbles it must run over. Smoothly them gently. They bring me numbness
in their bright needles. They bring me sleep. Now I have lost myself
I am sick of baggage, my patent leather overnight
case like a black pillbox. My husband and
child smiling out of the family photo, their smiles catch onto my skin,
little smiling hooks. I have let things slip. A 30 year old cargo boat stubbornly
hanging on to my name and address. They have swabbed me clear
of my loving associations. Scared and bare on the green plastic pillow trolley I
watched my key set, my bureaus of linen. My books sink out of sight and
the water went over my head. I’m a nun now. I have never been so pure. I didn’t want any flowers. I only wanted to lie with my. Turned out to be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free. The peacefulness is so big,
it dazes you and it asks nothing. A name tag, a few trinkets. It is what the dead close on. Finally, I imagine. Shutting their mouths on it,
like a communion tablet. The tulips are too red in the first place,
they hurt me. Even through the gift paper
I could hear them breathe. Lightly, through their white
swaddlings like an awful baby. The redness talks to my wound. It corresponds. They are subtle. They seem to float,
though they weigh me down, upsetting me with their sudden tongues and
their color. A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck. Nobody watched me before. Now, I have watched
the tulips turn to me and the window behind me but once a day
the light slowly widens and slowly thins. And I see myself flat, ridiculous a cut paper shadow between he eye of the sun and
the eyes of the tulip. And I have no face. I have wanted to efface myself. The tulips eat my oxygen. Before they came the air was calm enough. Coming and going,
breath by breath without any fuss. And the tulips filled it
up like a loud noise. They have caught my attention that was happy, playing and
wrestling without committing. Itself. The walls, also,
seem to be warming themselves. The tulips should be behind
bars like dangerous animals. They are opening like the mouth
of some great African cat. And I am aware of my heart. Opens and
closes its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me. The water I taste is warm and
salt, like the sea. It comes from a country
far away as health. [APPLAUSE].
Thank you Mary Ann. Can I please have Justin Warshaw,
who is a sophomore, with a double major in philosophy and
math, and he will be performing Helen of Troy,
the countertop dancing by Margaret Atwood.>>yeah, fun title so not many people
have known Margaret Atwood writes poetry. I discovered it in high school when
she was coming speak in my town. Like any good high schooler, I decided
that I didn’t want to read a whole book, so I Googled to see if she
had [LAUGH] any poems online.>>[LAUGH]
>>And though I have since read some of her books, I still really
really really like this poem. So this is Helen of Troy [INAUDIBLE]. By Margaret Atwood. The world is full of women
who’d tell me I should be ashamed of myself if they had the chance. Quit dancing, get some self respect and
a day job, right. And the minimum wage. And varicose veins just
standing in one place for eight hours behind a glass counter. Bundled up to the neck instead
of naked as a meat sandwich. Selling gloves or something,
instead of what I do sell. You have to have talent to peddle a thing
so nebulous and without material form. Exploited, they’d say. Yes, any way you cut it, but I’ve
a choice of how, and I’ll take the money. I do give value. Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire or its facsimile. Like jokes or war, it’s all in the timing. I sell men back their worse suspicions,
that everything’s for sale, and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see a chainsaw
murderer just before it happens. With thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice,
tit and nipple are still connected. Such hatred weeps in them,
my bleary worshippers. That or bleary hopeless love. Looking over the rows of heads and
upturned eyes, imploring, but ready to snap at my ankles. I understand floods and earthquakes,
and the urge to step on ants. I keep the beat, and dance for
them, because they can’t. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal, searing the nostrils or humid as August,. Mist, hazy and
languorous as city the day after. When all the rape’s been done already,
and the killing and the survivors wander around, looking for garbage to eat,
and there’s only a bleak exhaustion. Speaking of which, it’s the smiling
that tires me out the most. This, and
the pretence that I can’t hear them. And I can’t,
because I’m after all a foreigner to them. The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham, but I come from the province of the gods,
where meanings are wilting and oblique. I don’t let on to everyone, but
lean close and I’ll whisper. My mother was raped by a holy swan. You believe that? You can take me out to dinner,
that’s what we tell all the husbands, there sure are a lot of
dangerous birds around. [LAUGH] Not that anyone here but
you would understand. The rest of them,
would like watch me steal nothing. Reduce me to components,
as in a clock factory or abattoir. Crush out the mystery,
wall me up alive in my own body. They’d like to see through me, but nothing
is mor opaque than absolute transparency. Look, my ego hit the marble like breathe,
or a balloon, I’m rising. I hover six inches in the air and my
blazing swan You think I’m not a goddess? Try me.This is a torch song.Touch me and
you’ll burn. [APPLAUSE].>>Next we have Wes what I really like about this whole poetry out loud, oral performance thing is that it kind of gets back to, where stories came from,
in the very beginning. And, the thousands of years
tradition of memorized stories and oral poetry, and
these stories are passed down and down,. The kind of things you would tell
around a campfire in the dark, and this poem, I think, is one of
the best stories to tell in the dark.>>[LAUGH].>>This is The Raven. [COUGH] Once upon a midnight dreary,
while I pondered weak and weary over many a quaint and
curious volume of forgotten lore. While I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came tapping, as of someone gently rapping,
rapping at my chamber door. Tis some visitor, I muttered,
tapping at my chamber door only this, and nothing more. Distinctly I remember,
it was in the bleak December and each separate dying ember wrought
its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow, vainly I had
sought to borrow from my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for
the lost Lenore for the rare and radiant maiden who the angels named
Lenore nameless here, for evermore. And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling
of each purple curtain thrilled me, filled me with fantastic
terrors never felt before. So that now still the beating of my heart
I stood repeating Tis some visitor, entreating entrance at my chamber door. Some late visitor entreating
entrance at my chamber door, this it is, and nothing more. Presently my soul grew stronger,
hesitating then no longer sir, said I, or Madam, truly your forgiveness I
implore but the fact is I was napping. And so gently, you came wrapping,
and so faintly, you came tapping, tapping at my chamber
door, that scarce was sure I heard you. Here I opened wide the door,
darkness there, and nothing more. Deep into the darkness peering, long I
stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared
to dream, dared to dream before. But the silence was unbroken, and
the stillness gave no token, and the only word there spoken was
the whispered word, Lenore. This I whispered and
the echo murmured back the word, Lenore merely this and nothing more. Back into the chamber turning,
all my soul within me burning soon again I heard a tapping somewhat
louder than before. Surely, said I, surely that is something
at my window lattice let me see, then, what thereat is and. And this mystery explore,
let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore,
‘Tis the wind and nothing more. Open here I flung the shutter and
with many a flirt and flutter, in there stepped a stately
Raven of the saintly days of yore. Not the least obeisance made he. Not a minute stopped or stayed he. But with mien of lord or lady,
perched above my chamber door. Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just
above my chamber door perched, and sat, and nothing more. Then, this ebony bird, beguiling my sad
fancy into smiling, through the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore. Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou,
I said, art sure no craven, ghastly, grim, and ancient raven,
wandering from the nightly shore. Tell me what the lordly name is
on the Night’s Plutonian shore? Quoth the raven, nevermore. But, the raven,
still beguiling all my fancy and the smiling strait, I wield a cushion
seat in front of bird and bus and door. Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook my to linking fancy unto fancy
thinking what this ominous bird of yore? What this grim ungainly ghastly gaunt, and ominous bird of yore ment
in croaking never more? This I sat engaged in guessing,
but no syllable expressing, to the fowl whose fiery eyes now
burned into my bosom’s core. This and more I sat divining, with my head
at ease reclining on the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er. But whose velvet violet lining
with the lamplight gloating she shall press, nevermore. Then, methought, the air grew denser,
perfumed from an unseen censer swung by Seraphim, whose foot-falls
tinkled on the tufted floor. Wretch, I cried, thy God hath lent thee,
by these angels he hath sent thee respite, respite and nepenthe,
from thy memories of Lenore quaff. Oh quaff this quiet nepenthe and forget thy lost Lenore,
Quoth the raven, nevermore. Prophet, said I, thing of evil,
prophet still if bird or devil, whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest
tossed thee here ashore, desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land
enchanted, on this home by horror haunted, tell me, truly, I implore. Is there, is their balm in Gilead? Tell me, tell me I implore,
quoth the raven, nevermore.Prophet said I, thing said I, thing of evil,
prophet still if bird or devil by the heavens bends above us,
by the God we both adore, tell this soul with sorrow laden,
if within the distant Aiden, it shall clasp a sainted maiden
whom the angels name Lenore. For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name
Lenore, quoth the raven nevermore. Be that word our sign of parting,
bird or fiend!” . . . . .
I shrieked, upstarting get thee back into the tempest,
and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume,
as toke of the lie thy soul hath spoken. Leave my loneliness unbroken,
quit the bust above my door. Take thy beak from out my heart,
and take thy form from off my door. Quote the raven, nevermore. And the raven, never flitting,
still is sitting, still is sitting on the pallid bust
of Pallas just above my chamber door. And his eyes have all the seeping
of demons that he’s dreaming. And the lamp light o’er streaming
throws his shadow on the floor. And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor
shall be lifted, never more. [APPLAUSE].>>So next we have Paul Leary
who is a PHD in Biology, and he will be performing the shoe
lace by Charles Bukowski. [APPLAUSE].>>[COUGH] Hey everybody I
generally consider myself a pretty positive person and
Charles Bukowski, not a positive.>>[LAUGH].>>But I think his siz, his cynicism
has some wisdom in it you know, not, not everybody had your best
interest at heart all the time. And if you’re going to get stepped on, it’s sort of helpful to
expect the [INAUDIBLE].>>[LAUGH]>>so, [INAUDIBLE]
>>[LAUGH].>>A woman the tire’s flat the disease,
the desire. Fears confront, fears that hold so
still you can study them. Like pieces on a chess board. It’s not the large thing,
send a man to the madhouse. Death is great for, for murder,
incest, robbery, fire, flood. No, it’s the continuing series of small
tragedies, send a man to the madhouse. Not the death of his love,
but a shoelace that snaps. Time the dread of life is
that swarm of trivialities, that can kill quicker than cancer,
and they’re always there. License plates or taxes, or
expired driver’s license. Hiring or firing doing it,
or having it done to you. Gross flies, or
a broken hook on a screen, or out of gas.>>Or too much gas.>>[LAUGH]
>>The sink’s stopped up. The landlord’s drunk. The president doesn’t care. And the governor’s crazy. Light switch broken. Mattress like a porcupine, $105 for a tune-up, carburetor and
fuel pump at Sears Roebuck, and phone bill’s up, and the market’s down,
and the toilet chain is broken. Light as for them The hall light, front light, the back light,
the inner light. It’s darker to tell. And twice as expensive. Then there’s always crabs,
and in-grown toe nails, and people who insist they’re your friends,
there’s always that and worse. Leaky faucet, Christ and
Christmas, blue salami, nine day raves, 50 cent avocados,
and purple liverwurst, or making it as a waitress at
Norm’s on the split shift. Or as an emptier of bed pans. Or as a car washer, or bus boy. Or a stealer of old ladies’ purses. Leaving them screaming on the sidewalk
with broken arms Suddenly, two red lights in your rear view mirror,
blood in your underwear. Tuesday, 979 dollars for a bridge. 300 for a gold tooth, then China and
Russia and America and long hair, and short hair, and no hair and
beards with no faces. And plenty of zigzags but, no pot,
except maybe one to piss in and the other one around your gut,
with each broken shoelace. Out of 100 broken shoelaces, one man, one woman, one ditty, and your madhouse. So be careful, bend over [APPLAUSE].>>Next we have [FOREIGN], who is
a freshman double majoring in English and In urban Students. And she will be performing, excerpts
from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. [APPLAUSE].>>So I’ve always thought that Song of
Myself, was a particular rave poem. Because it’s essentially 52 whole lines
sections of an epic poem about himself. [LAUGH] So, this is a cool thing though,
because he takes this poem about himself, and he makes it so
that everybody is himself. He just brings everybody
in to this one family, in to this one universal
him that is beautiful. I won’t be doing all 52 sections [LAUGH]. I hope that you guys can still get
that sense of beauty [INAUDIBLE]. This is Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. I celebrate myself and sing myself,
and what I assume, you shall assume. For every atom belonging to me,
as good as belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed. From the soil, this air. Borne here of parents,
borne here from parents the same, and their parents the same. I, now 37 years old and
in perfect health begin. Hoping to see it’s not till then. Creates in schools an abeyance. Retiring back a while. Sufficed at what they are, but never
forgotten, I harbor for good and bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without. With original energy. Houses and rooms are full of perfumes. The shells are crowded, with perfumes. I breathe in the fragrance,
and know it and like it. The distillation will intoxicate me also. But I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume. It does not taste of the distillation. It is odorless. It is for my mouth forever. I am in love with it. I shall go to the bank by the wood,
and become undisguised and naked. I am mad for
it to be in contact with to me. Smoke filled breath
echoes through the woods, buzzed whiskers love ruined
silk thread clutching vine, my respiration and inspiration. The beating of my own heart. The passing of blood, and air in my lungs. The sniff of green leaves,
and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark colored
sea rocks and of hay in the barn. The sounds of belched words in my
voice boost to the eddies of the wind. A few light kisses, a few embraces,
reaching around of arms. The light alone on the rush of
the streets, or along the hills. And feels, the feeling of health,
the full moon trill, the song of me rising
from bed to meet the sun. Have you reckon a thousand acres much. Have you reckoned the earth much? Have you practiced so
long to learn to read? Have you felt so
proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me, and
you shall possess the origin of all poems. You shall possess good of the earth and
sun. There are millions of suns left. You should not take things at second or
third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead,
nor feed on the specters and books. You shall not look from my eyes either. Nor take things from me. You shall listen to all sides,
and filter them from yourself. Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or
her that it is just as lucky to die. And I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe. And cannot be contain’d between my hat and
boots. I peruse manifold objects,
no two alike, and every one good. The earth good. The stars good. Their adjuncts all good. I am not an earth nor
an adjunct of an earth. I am the mate and companion of all people,
just as immortal and fathomless as myself. They do not know how immortal, but I know. Every kind for itself and its own,
for me, mine, male and female. For me, those who have been boys and
that love women. For me the man that is proud, and
feels how it stings to be slighted. For me sweethearts and old maids. For me mothers and the mothers of mothers. For me lips that have smiled,
and eyes that have shed tears. For me,
children are the begetter of children. You’re not guilty to me. Nor stale, nor discarded. I see through the broad cloth, and
the gingham whether or no, and I’m around. Tenacious, inquisitive, tireless. And cannot be shaken awake. [APPLAUSE].>>For our next. We have Gabby Quintada who
is a senior in Art History. She will be performing The Language
of the Brag by Sharon Olds. [APPLAUSE]>>This poem was introduced
to me by Miss Margolin and I’m really trying to figure out
a way to convince her to give me a. Extra credit for this. [LAUGH] But when I read it, there was just something about it, that
it was like asking to be said out loud. The Language of the Brag by Sharon Olds. I have wanted excellence and then I threw. I have wanted to use my
exceptionally strong and accurate arms, and my straight posture and
quick electric muscles to achieve something at
the center of a cloud. The blade piercing the bark deep. The haft slowly and
heavenly vibrating like the cock. I have wanted some epic use for
my excellent body. Some, heroism. Some American achievements beyond
the ordinary, for my extraordinary self. Magnetic intense style I have stood by
the sandbox, and watched the boys play. I have wanted courage. I have thought about fire and
the crossing of waterfalls. I have dragged around my belly
big with cowardice and safely. My stool black with iron pills. My huge breasts, oozing mucus. My leg’s swelling. My hand’s swelling, my face,
swelling and darkening. My hair, falling out. My inner sex stabbed, again and again,
with terrible pain, like a knife. I have lain down. I have laid down, and sweated and
shaken, and passed blood, and feces and water, and slowly, alone,
in the center of a circle, I have passed a new person out. And they have lifted the new
person free of the act, and white. The new person free of that language of blood like praise, all over the body. I have done what you wanted to do. Walt Whitman. Alan Ginsburg. I have done this thing. I, and the other women, this exceptional
act, with the exceptional heroic body. This, giving birth. This glistening verb, and I am putting my proud American boast right
here with the others. [APPLAUSE].>>On to our final contestant. Nathan, who is a PhD [INAUDIBLE] for
the English department, will be performing excerpts from
The Lotus Eaters by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. [APPLAUSE].>>Thanks. In Greek mythology, the lotus eaters. Were a race of people who inhabited
an Island near North Africa. They existed in peaceful
apathy it was said, because of the narcotic effect
of the Lotus plants they ate. When Odysseus landed on the island,
some of his men ate the Lotus plant and wanted to stay there,
rather than return home to their families. The incident is documented in
the ninth book of Homer’s Odyssey. The Lotos Eaters by Alfred Lord Tennyson. [COUGH]
Courage, he said. I pointed toward the land. This mountain wave will
roll us shoreward soon. In the afternoon, they came onto a land
in which it seemed always afternoon. All round the coast
the languid air did swoon, breathing like one that
hath the weary dream. Full faced above the valleys to the moon. Like a downward smoke the slender stream,
allowing the cliff to fall and pause and fall it seemed. A land of streams sunk,
like a downward smoke. Slow dropping bails of [INAUDIBLE]. Some, their wavering lights and
shadows broke. Roll me a slumberish from the mud. They saw the gleaming river,
the sea reef of the inner land. Far off, three mountain tops, three silent pinnacles of
Egypts snows stood sunset clus. And dewed with showery drops up cloned
the shadowy pine above the woven copse. Charming sunset lingered
low down the red west. Through mountain clefts,
the dale was seen far inland. And any a winding vale, and
meadow set the slender gal and gale. A land where all things
always seem the same. And round about the keel with face pale. Dark faces pale against that rosy flame. The mild-eyed melancholy
lotus-eaters came. Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave to each, but
whoso did receive of them and taste. To the gushing of the wave, far, far away to the sea to mourn and
rave on alien shores. And if this fellow spake, his voice
was thin, as voices from the grave and deep asleep he seemed, yet all awake. And music in his ears. His beating heart did make. They sat them down upon the yellow sand,
between the sun and moon, upon the shore. And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland. Of wife, and child, and
slave, but evermore. Most weary seemed the sea,
and weary the shore, the oar. Weary, the wandering
fields of barren foam. Then someone said, we will return no more. And all at once they sang,
our Island home is far beyond the wave. We will no longer roam. There is sweet music here that softer
falls, and petals from blown roses. On the grass. Or night dews on still waters, between walls with shadowy ground and
gleaming paths. Music, the gentlier on the spirit lies and
tired eyelids upon tired eyes. Music that brings sweet sleep
down from the blissful sky. Hear a cool, moss [INAUDIBLE] and
in the moss, the ivies creep, and in the stream,
the long-leaved flowers weep from the craggy ledge,
the poppy hangs in sleep. Hateful is the dark blue sky
vaulted over the dark blue sea. Death, the end of life,
why should life all labor me. Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast and
in a little while, our lips are dumb. Let us alone. What is it that will last? All things are taken from us, and become
portions and parcels of the dreadful past. Let us alone. What pleasure can we
have to war with evil? Is there any peace in ever
climbing up the climbing wave? All things have rest and
ripen toward the grave in silence. Rippen. Paw. Cease. Give us. Long rest, or death. Dark death. Or dreamful eve. [APPLAUSE].>>That will be all for this classes. Keith will now [INAUDIBLE] for
several minutes. [LAUGH] And [INAUDIBLE] invite you all to
partake of refreshments on the terrace. I think that the [INAUDIBLE]

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