Poetry Comes Alive at Lincoln Center Reading


There is continuing debate amongst scholars regarding whether poetry existed prior to literacy (Courtesy of Flickr).

by Tereza Shkurtaj

For many people, poetry is an outlet to coherently express sporadic thoughts and desires. Poets Out Loud, a poetry community situated at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus, has made it their mission to foster the art of poetry by frequently inviting poets to share their work with the public. On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the community welcomed Tess Taylor, a distinguished U.S. Fulbright Scholar and award-winning poet, and Liz Bowen, a Fordham Alumni, scholar, teacher and poet, to their reading series.

The gathering, although small and intimate, was attended by members of the general public, as well as Fordham students and students of local high schools. Free posters that featured the poets’ work were handed out and all attendees were entered in a raffle for a chance to win a free copy of one of the poets’ published books.
Both Tess Taylor and Liz Bowen started writing poetry for class assignments. As the audience filled in, I thought of my own first exposure to poetry in kindergarten. My teacher distributed a collection of poems to my class, insisting we choose our favorite to be laminated. We were assigned to carry the poem in our pockets for a day and to share it with our friends, teachers and family members. I chose “April Rain Song” by Langston Hughes—the poem that fueled my love for lyrical verse. The beauty and simplicity of Hughes’ poem captivated my young heart and inspired me to read and write poetry at every opportunity. Jotting down thoughts and emotions on paper has not only become a habit, but a creative release that provides a relaxing pause after a stressful day.

These two women grew to love the art form that is poetry and to utilize poetry as a platform to voice their opinions on pressing issues. In one of her poems, Liz Bowen, an intersectional feminist and activist, writes, “I don’t want to be a machine anymore, I want to be an animal.” Her carefully crafted poetry dares to speak out against gender, sex, disability and racial inequalities, creating a sense of urgency.

The poems she read aloud spanned a variety of topics. She opened with a bold piece in which she cited the causes of her anger, but later read a lighthearted poem about her most recent stomach ache. Each of her poems, no matter their complexity, exhibited political hues and managed to clearly illustrate her inner “animal.” Through her experimental, abstract poetry and powerful voice, the audience can discern her burning passion for creative, positive change in society.

Tess Taylor, on the other hand, takes a unique route with her work by making nature the sole focus of her poetry. Taylor relies on the raw beauty of nature to depict vital moments in time by analyzing the changes in the seasons while alluding to social and political affairs. Her poetry not only displays her interest in gardening and farming, but also her talent for incorporating the topic of nature into edgy, meaningful pieces of art. During her reading she advised the audience of the importance of doing the “things that nourish us,” because our time is truly limited.

The room was silent as the poets fearlessly read their work. It seemed as if the poetry had come to life. The poets engaged the audience with consistent eye contact and their commanding voices, but were also personable and willing to explain their work while answering questions. The Poets Out Loud community is a strong, creative group that is continuing to encourage creativity and exploration of the mind through poetry, and they are doing a pretty good job at it.

There is continuing debate amongst scholars regarding whether poetry existed prior to literacy (Courtesy of Flickr).