By Patrick Driscoll
Every third Thursday of the month, in Seminar Room 305, a multitude of voices from all around the Worcester State community can be heard uniting in a common language—poetry.
“The impetus of the series was to help students see poetry as something real, and visceral—not just a puzzle to be resolved,” says John Blake, a poet and English professor at Worcester State, who has been curating the series for close to 6 years. “There’s a danger sometimes of being consumed with your own work, and the series was meant to immerse you in the work of others… to help establish your own sense of taste and want, as a poet or a reader.”
The city of Worcester has long had a renowned poetry scene, with many different venues to accommodate the varied tastes of its inhabitants. From the classical sensibilities of the Worcester County Poetry Society, to the dynamic slam poetry curated by the Dirty Gerund and the 7 Hills Poetry Slam, Worcester has some real pedigree to its poetry community. This can make participation in the scene a little intimidating, especially for students. Worcester State’s “One Poem…” Series was created to provide a place for any member of the WSU community looking to share their own poems, read the works of others, or just sit back and listen.
The rules for the series are simple: bring a poem of your own, and a poem from an established writer, and read them aloud when it’s your turn to read. The openness of the format is meant to allow participants to find out about exciting new voices and discover poets they might not have heard of, like musicians gathering to share LPs.
Participants in the series have come from every part of the WSU community, and all are welcome—everybody from students and professors to staff and administrators, and even poets from outside Worcester State. Some drive in from as far away as Princeton to participate in the roundtable, from established poets to writers who are just starting out.
“Some young poets don’t have a curiosity about other poets,” said Blake. “And some writers don’t have an interest in poetry. But sometimes it takes hearing poems aloud for them to affect you deeply.”
The series is intended to be as inclusive as possible, creating an environment where every voice is welcome—a community of perspectives from a broad range of backgrounds.
“Some folks come to read their poems, and some come to find out about new writers, but there are some who come to listen, because they just need to hear poetry.”