By NICOLE CARNEVALE
Maddie Garone, a senior English major, fiddles her thumbs nervously. She sits in the Brush Art Gallery, preparing to read her poetry aloud to a group of students and faculty that sit in front of her. After a brief introduction, she begins reading her poem inspired by the previous year she spent in France. The piece captures a lovely afternoon at her favorite French café.
Garone is just one of three senior English majors who chose to focus their senior English projects on poetry. Maddie, along with Roger Miller and Nick Sirianno, have spent their spring semesters writing poetry along particular themes of interest. They have gathered, on a rainy Monday afternoon, to present their works as part of St. Lawrence’s annual event “Poetry for Peace” which has been a part of the St. Lawrence English and Modern Languages departments since 2003.
Roger Miller, an English major and Biology minor, chose to blend his passion for creative expression and science by producing “poetry of the brain.” He has been honing in on his poetry skills since a young age. “Since sixth grade, I’ve loved writing poetry. The first poem I wrote was for my girlfriend at the time and I’ve been writing consistently ever since,” says Miller. The English major plans to pursue a masters in Neuroscience, but hopes to keep poetry an avid hobby.
Nick Sirianno’s poetry was inspired by the North Country and is a great example of poetry of place. Turns out that, like Miller, Sirianno began flexing his poetic muscles because of a girl, as he traced the start of his writing career to the second grade, in which he composed a love poem for a special girl. Sirianno hopes to keep poetry a hobby, for now, but is hopeful that it will someday turn into a career. “I’d like to teach poetry at the college level someday or maybe for a private school,” he explained.
Maddie Garone mixes feminist experimentalism with American poetry and French avant-garde. It seems like a lot to mesh into just one poem, but Garone makes an effort when she writes to do just that. “I try to weave together the political, philosophical and experiential in a way that is experimental,” she said of her poetry. The political edge to her works of art was evident in her poem titled, “Glitter bomb,” inspired by the gay activist who threw glitter on former GOP contender, Rick Santorum.
So, what is the future of “Poetry for Peace?” It has evolved so exquisitely since it came into fruition in 2003 and Dr. Barber is quite hopeful that it will continue along a path of success. “Finding funding is key, as well as keeping and sustaining the same level of interest in the event,” she said.
Prior to the graduating English majors’ poetic presentations, audience members with prepared poetry were encouraged to step up to the mike and share. Dr. Barber provided a lot of great advice for anyone that enjoys writing, but might be shy to present their poetry aloud, especially with those more in-tuned to their poetic juices. “It’s important to have fun. Many students find that, once they share in a friendly atmosphere, reading their poetry just gets easier,” Dr. Barber explained.
Monday’s event really was a great way to kick National Poetry Month off to a roaring start. Although it is sad to see three very talented English majors leave St. Lawrence, it is more than probable that these three poets will continue to write. Next year’s “Poetry for Peace” will be missing three great artists, but I am confident that, given our English department’s beautiful and effective guidance, they will be replaced by other, yet equally talented and purposive, voices.
Garone walks home from the reading with a skip in her step. Such a skip is not only to hurry into her warm apartment and get out of the awful rain, but probably, due to the relief of having read her poems without a glitch. “It felt so great to be able to share my works with my friends and peers. It makes all the hard and frustrating aspect of poetry writing really worth it,” she said.