A Firsthand Account of Local Collegiate Poetry in Worcester

Posted on April 12, 2012 by


By Thom Friend

   On  April 1, 2:30 p.m. I sped along I-290 toward the Worcester Public Library. I was running late, per usual, to a unique poetry event. That day the library played host to the Worcester County Poetry Association’s (WCPA) College Contest. The finalists consisted of students from eight local colleges.  As I approached the library’s Banx Room, where the reading was already in progress, I was distressed to find that the doors were closed, the event had already begun.

As I sat outside the door, listening to the sporadic applause coming from within, I contemplated the best way to enter the room without being that aggravating latecomer who disrupts the whole event. I decided to enter during the next round of applause, and hopefully sneak into a seat in the back, unnoticed.

When the clapping began, I opened the door into a room with about 30 chairs in it, 29 of which – were filled. However, to my rescue came Professor Susan Elizabeth Sweeney, Ph.D., of Holy Cross as she motioned to a vacant seat. Unfortunately, the seat happened to be in the front row, next to one of the two judges of the event. Needless to say, I was a distraction. When I finally settled in, however, I was soon reassured that I was in a room filled with encouraging poets and poetry enthusiasts. Everyone had a smile on their face, and for refreshments there was fresh fruit and homemade hermits. There was nothing to fear here.

Poets read their pieces in rapid-fire succession, as they were introduced by Professor Ian Williams, Ph.D., of Fitchburg State University. Among the winners were Orquidia Jerez of Holy Cross, and Christian Lecorps of WPI. There were also two honorable mentions; Stephanie Giguere of Assumption College, and our very own Jeff Siegrist, of Worcester State University.

All of the poets brought something unique to the table. With varying styles of performance and writing, there was no shortage of originality. Siegrist, WSU, delivered an extensive narrative poem in which he explained his disconcerting childhood experience of learning that he was becoming an elephant. Intelligently written, dry-humored, and frantically performed, Siegrist’s poem seemed to appeal to all of our feelings of childhood insecurity.

After the event, I shared a few words with Williams about the WCPA. He described the organization as a “great way to help you tap into the community of poetry writing” that flourishes here in Worcester. On our way out the door, as Williams and I were parting ways, I hastily asked “Is there anything in particular that Worcester State students should know about the WCPA?” With a grin and a wave, he said simply “That it exists.” Well… now you know.

For upcoming events from the WCPA, as well as general information on the Worcester poetry scene, visit their website at http://wcpa.homestead.com/.

Questions or concerns? Email tfriend@worcester.edu.

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