On Thursday night, students from Haverford’s creative writing course “Poetry Writing: A Practical Workshop” read poems to an open audience in Woodside Cottage’s Meditation Room. Called Writing Fear, the event was organized by Visiting Assistant Professor of English Thomas Devaney and served as a forum for his students to share their work.
Devaney teaches an introductory poetry writing class every fall, but aims to incorporate a different theme every year. This year’s choice of fear was apt because, as Devaney said in his introduction, “the way fear is seeping through our lives in a big, general way is out of scale.”
Students’ came at the topic from a variety of personal experiences and perspectives, writing about everything from the fear of loss to a fear of whales. Besides sharing poems that were written in class, some students chose to bring in works by other poets as well.
“Poetry, its reason for being, is to say the things that almost can’t be said in everyday language,” commented Devaney, who agreed that the essence of this year’s theme were poems that explored fear on an individual level. “I think those are the most successful and relevant poems,” he said.
For some, standing in front of a group and reading their own work was, itself, an embodiment of fear. Nonetheless, it was evident that the event fostered a very positive atmosphere.
“I had never felt comfortable going on my own to a poetry event and being like, ‘I’m going to present my poem,’” said Maggie Alvarez BMC ’17 (pictured above). “Having it vaguely required [for class] helped motivate me to be like, ‘Yes, I’m going to write a poem,’ and then practice [performing] it.”
Devaney believes that, in addition to creating a new environment for students to share their work, the event gave a new sort of authenticity and power to the poems that were read. Sharing work together, he said, “[embodied] something about poetry, and even the tradition of poetry in song, and community.”
-Michael Weber ’19
Photos by Caleb Eckert ’17