3 Dots “State College Poetry Fest”

Story posted February 13, 2023 in CommRadio, News by Cassie Baylis

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Students Meera Gupta and Emily Hashem organized “State College Poetry Fest” at 3 Dots from 1-5 p.m. on Feb. 11.

Gupta and Hashem put on the event by themselves with some support from Dr. Jonathan Eburne, professor in the Department of English for Penn State.

The two second-year Pre-med students were inspired by Poetry Pals, a club that meets at 3 Dots every week, to organize the event, Hashem said.

“We just think that sometimes people can honestly suffer from isolation, especially as university students,” Hashem said. “We wanted to show and celebrate the literary community we have here.”

Tables were set up for contributors including W.O.R.D.S., Kalliope, Creative Writing Club, Schlow Library and Ridgelines Language Arts, for attendees to interact with university-affiliated clubs and community literary groups.

Gupta and Hashem highlighted mentioning and thanking the local organizations that served as contributors to Poetry Fest.

“It’s a very collaborative event full of so many wonderful organizations who decided to come here,” Gupta said.

Maggie Dickinson-Sherry, fourth-year majoring in English and editor-in-chief of Kalliope, a literary magazine at Penn State, sat at a table with a stack of the literary magazine’s “Folio 2022.”

“I have always wanted to be able to go to an event like this while I have been in college,” Dickinson-Sherry said. “I haven’t found a huge amount of events that are surrounding poetry and literature.”

After an hour or so set aside for browsing the organization tables, published poets Julia Kasdorf and Leah Poole Osowski kicked off the performances with the first readings.

Then, signed up individuals performed.

Tate Geiger, first-year majoring in engineering science with a minor in English, was one of the student performers at the event.

“A lot of times you hear people say that poetry is dead or poetry isn’t important anymore,” Geiger said. “Seeing over 50 people here shows that it is [important].”

The microphone was left open for individuals attending once pre-scheduled performances were over.

“I like that it was just a calm vibe in the space,” Nia Smith, third-year double-majoring in psychology and women and gender studies, said. “It felt very welcoming and everyone was so free-spirited.”

After watching the first performances, Smith decided to sign up to perform during the open mic portion of the event.

In order to spread news about the event, Gupta and Hashem put flyers up around the university and downtown, did social media outreach and encouraged mention of the event by word of mouth.

86 people signed in via QR code for the event. Signing in not only tallied the number of most individuals present, it also entered attendees into a poetry book raffle with winners announced at the end of the event.

“The environment was really vibrant,” Yousef Kara, fourth-year majoring in middle-level math education and a member of W.O.R.D.S. at Penn State, said.

Gupta and Hashem emphasized that the event was not just for those who are readers or writers of poetry.

“I think everyone has a place for poetry in their lives,” Gupta said.

“It’s never too late, it’s never too early. And you always, always have something to gain,” Hashem said.

Cassie Baylis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ceb6085@psu.edu.