Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Powerful poetry echoes through PCL

Leila Saidane
French and Italian professor Maria Wells reads her poetry book “Images in the Clouds: Reading the Rky” in the PCL poetry center on Aug. 28, 2023.

A line of chairs divided the room into two halves — one side saw students gathered around tables chatting and working while the other saw rows of chairs filled with a crowd hungry for prose. The second floor of the Perry-Castañeda Library echoed with students’ chatter, only one week into the fall semester. The floor echoed with another sound as well: poetry. 

Students and faculty gathered at the PCL Poetry Center on Monday as part of UT Libraries Welcome Week to hear poetry readings from graduate students and UT faculty. The event heard original works from Bo Hee Moon, KB Brookins, Chad Bennett and Maria Wells, as well as Arabic works translated to English by Emily Drumsta. 

Gina Bastone, one of the event coordinators, works for the PCL as the Humanities Librarian and primary curator for the Poetry Center collection. She said the main motivation behind the poetry reading and Welcome Week was to let students know that campus libraries can be a source for more than just academics. 

“(The PCL has) a lot of enrichment — it’s not just academics,” Bastone said. 

Bastone said she didn’t expect such a large turnout because the PCL hadn’t hosted an event like this since before 2020. 

“I’m blown away,” Bastone said. “It’s really nice to see so many people on campus who are interested in poetry and willing to come out at lunchtime on a Monday.”

Alicia Harmon, a first year graduate student, said she heard about the event through her creative writing program. She said she enjoyed how reader KB Brookins encouraged the crowd to make noise at the beginning of the event.

“It’s cool the way that (KB) opened up the event like that — encouraging speaking and noise,” Harmon said. “Especially going to poetry slam events, people are always snapping and clapping or they’ll tell you to repeat a line. The crowd will shout out to you ‘Run that back,’ and the poet will have to recite that line again. University poetry events … are usually more low-key and quiet. It was nice … to encourage that noise.”

Bo Hee Moon, UT’s Humanities Career Pathways coordinator, said Bastone reached out and invited her to read at the event. Moon read from her debut collection “Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs” which explores her experiences as a Korean-American adoptee. 

“Gina had created an amazing curation of different Asian and Asian American poets’ voices,” Moon said. “I valued and loved her work and this center … I was really honored that she invited me to read.”

Moon said her long history of reading at poetry events began when she read one of her works at a creative writing day in high school and started attending open mics. This week’s event felt special, she said, because of the closeness of the UT community.

“This (event) is special because I love the poetry center,” Moon said. “I’m becoming more part of the UT community here … so that makes it really special.”

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About the Contributors
Mimi Calzada, Life & Arts Desk Editor
Mimi is a rhetoric and writing junior from Fort Worth, Texas. She currently serves as a Life & Arts Desk Editor and previously served as a general and senior reporter for LARTS. She loves watching movies and cooking all kinds of soup.
Leila Saidane, Photo Editor
Leila Saidane is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studying Radio-TV-Film and Journalism. Her words and photos have been published in The Texas Tribune, The Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News.