A presentation of summer- and heat-themed poems attracted students and faculty to the Harry Ransom Center’s first Poetry on the Plaza event of the semester — “Emperors of Ice Cream.”
The Ransom Center began hosting Poetry on the Plaza many years ago on the first Wednesday of the month and the tradition stuck, said Ransom Center humanities coordinator Gregory Curtis. Curtis said the poetry selected for the readings is regularly coordinated with current exhibits at the center.
The poets featured during the hour included former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner James Tate, Robert Frost and Elizabeth Alexander, who composed the poem “Praise Song for the Day” for President Obama’s inauguration. In addition to literature, the event also featured free ice cream sponsored by Amy’s Ice Cream.
“The poets and scholars we are bringing in model many ways of having a life in poetry,” said Lisa Moore, associate professor for English and women’s and gender studies. “We hope this will inspire students to become readers and lovers of poetry, and for some, it may spark the desire to write poetry as well.”
Wednesday’s Poetry on the Plaza was hosted in conjunction with the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies, a UT English department program.
“The English department often helps with [Poetry on the Plaza],” English department chair Elizabeth Cullingford said. “The location allows people to wander by because they are eating lunch and [the poetry] hooks people.”
Some classes recommend or require students to attend these events.
“I’m here for my poetry and fiction writing class, but it is wonderful how [the readers] enunciate the words and recite the poems,” English sophomore Monica Chakraborty said. “I can feel what they are saying because it is hot [outside], and we are eating ice cream, which is what many of the poems are about.”
Others came in support of the Ransom Center, such as Austin resident Bill Stout.
“The Ransom Center is my favorite library, and these events are very thoughtful and provoking,” Stout said. “The selections are of such high quality, and there is a great range of poems and readers.”
The next Poetry on the Plaza event is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28 at noon. The event will feature Actors from the London Stage, an educational theatre group from the University of Notre Dame that travels around the country to teach and perform Shakespeare’s works to college students.
Printed on September 15, 2011 as: Students gather on plaza for hot poems, cold treats