The Kappa Alpha Literary Society hosted their annual fall term evening of poetry reading last Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 7-9 p.m. in the Nott Memorial. Philanthropy Chair Gianluca Avanzato ’18 planned and coordinated the event.
The brothers of Kappa Alpha, along with friends, colleagues and faculty, shared a medley of poetic works ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to completely original poems.
Alexander Chu ’17 started the night off with Allen Ginsberg’s “The Terms in Which I Think of Reality,” a counter-culture piece that depicts the world in a bleaker, angstier manner while calling out the truths of reality that people are less willing to say outloud. With flowery language absent, the choice of Ginsberg’s work set the tone for unconvential, quirky selections of poetry.
Francis Kailey ’18 followed up with a medley comprised of Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein and Shannen Wrass. This assembly of works (“The People Upstairs,” “Messy Room” and “The Perfect Friend” respectively) bowed to a theme that everyone on campus can relate to: college life.
John Jonker ’18 added his own personal flare on the famously romantic “I Wanna Be Yours” by punk poet John Cooper Clarke. In a continuation of sorts, Brian Teitelbaum ’17 delivered the evocative “If—” by Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling with emotion and stoicism.
Francis Rocco ’17 read his own work titled “A Dream” while Zachary Kent ’17, Rex Rubin ’18 and Ian Vogt ’18 contributed a range of prose, lyrical and satirical works to round out the poetic ensemble.
But the Kappa Alpha brothers were not alone in their poetic ventures. Suleydi Betancourt ’19 took a stand at the podium and read the endearing “A Letter to My Dog” by Andrea Gibson. Associate Professor of German Erika Nelson-Mukherjee read poems by Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. As a German professor, it was all the more fitting that she read a mix of translated and German-exclusive poems.
Original works were also brought to the podium and held their own light amongst the masterful poems already read. Benjamin Megathlin ’17 read “Ramblins of an Irish Professor,” an entertaining piece that he penned during his term abroad in Ireland. Sharmeen Azher ’17 presented two untitled works written by a close friend with emotional and deep creative flare. Azher struck a chord within the audience members, simultaneously stunning and confounding them. “I don’t have the right words to describe it,” commented Andrea Becker ’18. Kim Bolduc ’17 also read two of her own works that merged prose and poetry. Despite the wealth of poetic works, the night had to come to a close. Avanzato ended the event with the beginning of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.”
Kappa Alpha is a literary society founded in 1825 at Union. Its founders strove to create a space where, as stated by Avanzato, “students could discuss and pursue new ideas often found in literacture” and “participate in philosophical conversations.”
The current brothers continue to uphold the founders’ values by hosting events that promote intellectual curiosity.