‘Writers at Sonoma’ recite poetry

The Writers at Sonoma series poetry fest, Voices from the Postmodern American Poetry Anthology, took place at Weill Hall on Oct. 15 where students, faculty and staff enjoyed readings from 13 critically acclaimed poets.

The anthology is a collection of poems and is the second edition to the series, which includes 117 poets, 58 of them brand new, according Paul Hoover, editor of “Postmodern American Poetry.”

“The first edition, which was published in 1994, was a huge success,” said Hoover. “We knew that another edition would have to be made soon thereafter.”

As students and faculty sat down, the anticipation for the poets to read grew higher. Gillian Connolly, poet in “Postmodern American Poetry” and English professor at Sonoma State University, was one of many poets that several people were excited to hear.

Connolly read a self-written poem that she had done extensive research on about Gandhi. This poem portrayed a hidden life that he led that many did not know about. One part of the poem told the listener how he would lay with underage girls to test his temptation.

“I really enjoyed Gillian Connolly’s poetry,” said junior Erica Buchko. “I thought she was very insightful and felt that she did a spectacular job with her Gandhi poem.”

Another one of the 13 poets at the event was Aaron Shurin, a professor at University of San Francisco, who recited three self-written poems, one of which involved a first-person scene at a coffee shop.

“The poems of mine are varied,” said Shurin. “What holds them together [is] the form and that is that they have a structural relationship to Shakespeare’s sonnets using thee or thou.”

Shurin has lived in San Francisco for 40 years and first started to write poetry on a serious level at the age of 20.

“I was fascinated with poetry as a young child,” said Shurin. “I would memorize poems and recite them as much as possible.”

As the poets read their poems, students and faculty sat down and focused on the tone of voice, closing their eyes and paying close attention to the words being spoken.

“I thought that each poet was amazing,” said Buchko. “I especially liked Aaron Shurin because he spoke with such passion and engaged the listeners.”

Before the readings of the poems, there was a discussion about the full anthology with Hoover and poet Lyn Hejinian in Schulz 3001. Here, English Professor Anne Goldman led the discussion and spoke in conversation regarding the book.

“It was a bit intimidating at first but I thought that the discussion was interesting,” said Buchko. “The poets were so passionate about their work and how they wrote each of them.”

As the last few poets read their poems to the audience, the students and faculty were eager to hear more of the critically acclaimed poems.

“I was so enthused to see and hear that many poets in one place,” said junior Jespir Ragbotra. “Once it ended I just could not get enough.”

Students, as well as the general public, are now able to purchase the critically acclaimed book, “Postmodern American Poetry.” It is available at the Sonoma State bookstore and any retail store.