Poetry House picnic fosters community

The Poetry House attracted a sizable crowd to their back-to-school picnic on Thursday Sept. 24 at their house on Greenvale Ave. Tickets were sold outside of Stav Hall for several days before the event, and anyone could purchase a ticket for $2 and come to the Poetry House for food, poetry readings, music and information about the House itself.

The House offered their guests a large spread, including hummus, brownies, pasta salad, kebabs and blueberry lemonade. There were vegetarian and gluten free options (tofu kebabs and gluten-free pasta salad) and the variety of foods contributed to the welcoming atmosphere of the event. Visitors were encouraged to read poetry in front of the group, and each performance was met with snaps and smiles from everyone present.

Readings and presentations of all kinds were welcome, and guests had the pleasure of hearing original poetry, works by all kinds of poets from John Keats to Saul Williams, and even a portion of a short story by Raymond Carver. People read from printed-off pages, books and phone screens while standing on a small rug in the decorated garage of the Poetry House. Local musicians, including Christian Wheeler ’16, shared their talents with the group, playing covers of songs by Iron and Wine, as well as original pieces. Those present were eager to hear all that was shared that evening, despite the after-sundown chill and slight drizzle.

The Poetry House, while not an honor house, exists as a creative space for students to explore the creation and sharing of poetry at St. Olaf.

“What we’re hoping to do is inspire other poets to make poetry and share poetry, and that can be hard in an academic environment,” Cynthia Zapata ’16 said. “We want to do what the Bohemians did, with everyone inspiring one another, and that can be hard to do in a classroom or a lecture hall.”

Poetry House has a gathering called Free Association every Thursday night from 9-10 p.m. at the house, and all are invited to come and share their work in the open and creative space.