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Interview: Poetry Society

Interviewing Poetry Soc reveals the quiet majesty of their activity. Thomas Cox explores.

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As I write, my laptop hums under the strain of programmes, layering a bright papier-mache paste over the screen. iTunes plays an album released today, a sheaf of internet tabs born from whimsical interests flash neon delectables, a calendar shortcut bobs merrily in the corner, and several mysteriously lurking Word documents evoke a guilty reminder of incomplete work.

In a world that constantly buries you under a rainbow avalanche of media interaction, it is easy to forego the simpler pleasures. I explored the lulled respite of Poetry Soc, a society where the written word replace the wan glow of a screen.
There is a sometimes unavoidable issue with societies, that their close nature garners a cliquey gang comprised of students studying the same single subject, that which is most relevant for the society. This is not the case with Poetry Soc however, the Chair being a chemistry student. Having a mix of subjects helps to foster a more diverse response range.

Fielding and Lydia, Secretary and Treasurer respectively, speak passionately about the society's fruits.
F: We make a lot of effort to include all kinds of people. It's not for those who are interested in talking (making speeches) about it, you have to be engaged and have discussions. But I think that a lot of people, even those who aren't that interested in poetry, would enjoy it if they came along. It's an especially great place to learn about contemporary poetry, as most people probably haven't read much.

L: Conversations are never contrived, there's never this seminar-like pressure for you to say something really profound. It's a genuine response. It's an opportunity for you to be introduced to an environment where you can get across a powerful sensation of what poetry can mean to people.

F: It's really non-judgemental, you can bring anything you like. For example we encourage people to find spoken word poetry on Youtube.

L: By attending just a few sessions I feel I have a much greater knowledge about the scene and landscape of today's poetry, and what it can mean to people.

F: The other fun thing we do is play poetry games. Usually we concoct them and they become sporadically alive, or play our staple game of Poetry Consequences.

L: We play off each other's creative outbursts. Gone are the romantic days of port-smoothed candlelit readings of Byron; biscuits are now the choice aperitif, but the group's work has evolved considerably in recent times.

F: We picked up the mantle this time last year. It was pretty insular then, they didn't do much promotion outside the society, we wanted to expand and get more people involved.

Last term's 'Poems and Pints' event enjoyed great popularity. Students have a rare opportunity to read their poetry to a large but casual audience. There's another one in the pipeline, on top of poet Anthony Dunn's forthcoming February visit.

L: Fielding has had several poems published in Magma and Cake magazines, and Poetry Soc's last Chair has even had an entire collection published. Their meetings provide an exceptional soap box for student poets to test their work on a sympathetic audience.

F: Often people are afraid to write, or afraid to show people what they've written. Not to say that we don't have people who come in and just read what they've written... like me!

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