Poetry in Motion
Karl Acker just thought it was an open mic night.
The sports administration sophomore mistakenly showed up to the Fusion Poetry Slam Contest after seeing a flyer on campus — but it’s a good thing he decided to stick around. The twenty-year-old rapper won first place after being awarded a score of 28 out of 30 points by the judges.
“I don’t do poetry. So I figured I’d just use one of my songs and perform it as a slam poem,” he said.
Acker was just one of eight students who participated in the slamming at the first-ever Open Mic Night and Poetry Slam sponsored by Fusion, the Honors College Arts Review. Honors and non-Honors students alike performed a wide variety of poems — ranging in subject matter from the Iraq war to Harry Potter — while more than forty students in attendance snapped approvingly.
For the first hour, students, staff, and faculty members had the opportunity to step up to the mic and read without the threat of competition. The slamming, where students performed only original work, started afterward.
Special guest readers included Dr. Drew Lamonica Arms, Director of Fellowship Advising, Cindy Seghers, Experiential Learning Coordinator, Dr. Granger Babcock, Associate Dean of the Honors College and professor Vince LiCata.
After Babcock read selected works by Ogden Nash, Seghers and Arms performed a duet of several Dorothy Parker poems, bringing students to laugher with satirical lines like “love is a thing that can never go wrong / And I am Marie of Roumania.”
LiCata, a biochemistry professor and playwright, read selections by Marge Piercy and also slammed his original poetry, earning him third place in the competition.
“It was awesome. I’ve been to at least a dozen poetry slams in Baton Rouge and that was one of the top ones,” he said.
Previously known as Apollo’s Lyre, Fusion changed its name — and its focus — earlier this year.
“We wanted to make it more contemporary,” said Babcock, who serves as the faculty advisor for Fusion. “Fusion represents the mishmash of artistic forms we’re looking for: essays, sheet music, art, photography, drama, all kinds of stuff.”
Although a hard copy of the journal has not been published for two years, Babcock said it will be printed again in the spring, in addition to being published online.
“The group of students that’s working on the review right now is very dedicated and very interested,” he said. “We really want to give students an outlet for their creative work. There are already options on campus, but we want to provide an alternative to those … We’re interested in more genres than they are.”
Robert Hudson, editor of Fusion, said he was impressed with the turnout at Open Mic Night and hopes to have an even bigger crowd at the release party for the journal in the spring.
“The poetry slam was a great success,” he said. “We’re trying to set ourselves apart and do something that’s never been done before on campus.”
Hudson said the journal was previously for poetry and fiction alone, but has been restructured to give students an opportunity to showcase other forms of art as well.
“We’re trying to set ourselves apart from the New Delta Review,” he said. “Fusion is much more inclusive … we’re trying to bring in philosophical writings and other forms of art. And it’s not just for Honors students, it’s open to any student at LSU.”
Achilles Parodi Amaya, a computer engineering sophomore, decided to read his original work after being encouraged by the Fusion staff.
“(Open Mic Night) completely exceeded my expectations … the performances were so varied — there were serious ones, funny ones — it really blew my mind,” he said. “Poetry is an expression of yourself, like any other form of art. It’s not just about being sensational, it’s about delivering a message.”
Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831
Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College
For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831