PREVIEW: Change Our World (Slam Poetry)

Poetry has long been a medium that puts words to the indescribable. It can be used to explore the feelings that exist amorphously, from the most complete pains to immense elation. It draws together seemingly unrelated pieces of life and brings light to ideas that we may otherwise glaze over in our striving for a normal life. Further still, slam poetry combines this style of writing with a moving, lyrical flow that resonates with a wider audience, adding in a most earnest emotion to the already poignant stanzas.

The U of M Slam Poetry Competition group and Roya Marsh are coming together to perform their work Wednesday, April 3rd at Rackham Auditorium. Come snatch a seat at 7 pm and prepare yourself to gain new perspectives on social justice issues that plague our existence. Admission is free for students and faculty, and staff!

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REVIEW: Pls Hire Us

Exam season is a cruelly bittersweet time. It is the blissful end to a long and arduous semester, a promise of a well-deserved break at the other end. During it all, though, the nights spent replacing sleep with study start stacking up, and the days fill with delirium. Personally, as I walked into Studio A for this show, I was rocking barely an hour of sleep in the past 36, as I’d been writing papers and preparing for an exam with such intensity that I was unable to fall asleep after I’d finished. Until my inevitable crash later that night, I would have to accept that I’d need to settle for the next best thing after sleep: laughter.

Unsurprisingly, quite a few other students were in the same boat; the place was packed. There was a list up front like the ones at exclusive clubs in the movies, but only those knew the performers were on it. I walked over to the back of the line. Luckily, I’d come early enough that I was let in before all the chairs had been filled.

As soon as the night of comedy sketches began, all of the day’s jittery exhaustion drained out of me. I was glad to find that the sketches were unrelated to each other, like in Saturday Night Live. Each scene was its own self-contained story, and despite their brevity, characters were developed, and the plot had enough detail to keep it interesting. Although the entire cast performed well, I did have a favorite; Emma Puglia really stood out to me. Her stage presence was amazing, following her even through the digital sketches, and her use of different comedic voices and tones helped her to be an invaluable part of the cast.

I don’t think a single member of the peanut gallery walked out of that room before having let out an embarrassingly ugly guffaw and/or wiped away a few tears from laughing so hard. It takes a truly talented group of people to write, perform, and produce something that can wash away the grime of exhaustion from a room full of students in the middle of their exam season. During that precious, golden time I had in Studio A, I could forget about the oceanography test I had suffered through just hours before, the paper I’d thrown together at 3:00 AM, the Wolverscreams session I’d missed while taking a nap. For that gift, I am so, so grateful.


PREVIEW: Pls Hire Us–Comedy Sketch Show

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As we all know, exam season is a rough time to be alive. The work seems endless, the career goals start looking a little blurry, and dropping out feels like a more and more attractive option with each failed practice quiz.

It’s time to take a little break. The SAC 403 class will be performing a comedy act at North Quad Studio A, with the frighteningly relatable title “Pls Hire Us.” Showtimes are Wednesday, December 12th at 5 and 8 PM, as well as Thursday, December 13th at 10 PM.

Come on out to celebrate surviving your first round of exams with an entertaining show. It’s free, but seats are first come, first served, so arrive a few minutes early.

REVIEW: Xylem’s Crazy Wisdom Open Mic

Poetry has never been something I can simply sit down and write. If ever I attempt to do this, I end up with an oversimplification of the same few themes (love, sadness, anger, death) every time. So, I’m forced to be the submissive partner in the relationship, listening to an idea whenever it decides to show up. In terms of neat scheduling, the pursuit of poem writing is majorly inconvenient.

But beyond my personal gripes lies a reluctant reverence for poets and their poems. There is difficulty in writing something in a tone from another dimension of being that also doesn’t make everyone in the world roll their eyes back into their heads.

In general, when people try to write a poem, they do not succeed. English teachers may yell at me for saying that it’s only possible to either succeed or fail at an art form, that that simple dichotomy could even exist. They may argue that instead of two boxes marked pass and fail there is a whole grey spectrum of middle ground. Personally, I would disagree; it is very clear to me when a poem is striking, while others are dull or trying too hard, or relying on overused subject matter.

At any open mic, there will be a real variety of performances. This is why I find these events so much more promising than a single artist presenting their work: no matter how many pieces there are that fall short, at least one will stick with you.

This is the thought I had when I walked into the cozy room in the second floor of Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room. There were cookies and hand-clapper noisemakers (maybe snapping has gone out of style?), and the house was packed.

At least 15 or 20 people read or sang, coming from both comedic and tragic angles. Even I, possessed by something not of this world (probably), stood to read a poem I’d written for a class.

Most of the readings were good; in the writing world at least, most people who have confidence in their work have it for good reason. Of course, there are so many more good writers out there who lack confidence entirely. I’m certain that there were some of those talents among us who didn’t read.

My favorites from the evening are the ones I can remember now, a day later. One of the first was a poem about a serendipitous encounter with amazing lettuce at a Wendy’s, another a published piece by a reluctant reader, an extended metaphor of a jar of honey, a spot-on cover of “Oh Comely” by Neutral Milk Hotel. The audience was responsive, quick to laugh and clap when the writing called for it. A few of the writers came up twice, displaying the different facets of their writing styles. The room was warm with the glow of poetry and evidence that Crazy Wisdom pays their heat bill on time. In more ways than one, I felt the place a shelter from the cold.

Xylem Magazine hosts open mics often, as well as other events like writing workshops. Check out their website for more information!


PREVIEW: Here Be Sirens

Were you the weird kid in middle school who was obsessed with Greek mythology? Can’t believe that anyone hasn’t seen the Percy Jackson movies? Love listening to people scream-singing while wearing large wigs and formal clothing?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’ll just love Here Be Sirens, an opera telling the tale of the lives of a trio of sirens. Oftentimes, these creatures are made out to be one-dimensional monsters, evilness being their only characteristic. Composer, performer, and playwright Kate Soper approaches her main characters with a more open mind, giving them internal desires and dreams that conflict with the caricature that outsiders typically see.

Come on down to the Kerrytown Concert House this Thursday, November 29 at 8 PM to experience Soper’s masterpiece. Tickets are absolutely FREE with your passport to the arts ticket, or $10-35 if you are PTTA-less.

PREVIEW: Xylem’s Crazy Wisdom Open Mic

Some people look to celebrities for fashion or lifestyle inspiration, fawning over their manicured looks and multi-million dollar homes. Personally, I aspire to be half as cool as Beret Girl from An Extremely Goofy Movie.

You know her, that poet from the Bean Scene coffee shop. Definitely the ultimate cool girl, even though she’s a fictional character.

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Anyhow, if our dreams to become anything like her are to come to fruition, we need to first bust into the open mic scene.

We’re in luck: Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom is hosting an open mic night Wednesday, November 28 from 7-9 PM. Bring your poems, your spoken word performance, those bars of slam poetry you’ve been waiting to give to the world. Or, you can just bring your ears and absorb the cool atmosphere, find a good book, and drink some tea. Whatever you choose, this is the place to be this Wednesday night.