Arts and Entertainment | Books

New Poetry experiments with technique, media in new exhibit

Do you scribble lines on your lunch napkin? Or better yet, write poetry that people wouldn’t even consider poetry to start with?

On Wednesday nights in Potluck House, Columbia’s literary group New Poetry offers an open space for aspiring poets of all levels—and this Friday, they will be holding a show with Postcrypt Art Gallery that fuses New Poetry’s nontraditional take on writing with artistic media.

“Nearly everybody writes, but so little will actually admit it. We want to get rid of the idea that in order to share your work, you have to be good or published,” New Poetry board member Natalie Robehmed, CC ’13, said. “Come talk to us. Without New Poetry, I wouldn’t have started reading or showing. It’s a very supportive community and what we’re trying to create.”

The exhibit will integrate performance and mixed media artwork.

Vivian Liu, BC ’16 and Postcrypt assistant curator, said in a statement, “Our aim is to blur the line between what defines an image and what defines a text. Therefore, Image/Text is an exhibit of perception ... How can poets manipulate word meaning and syntax to provide the same expressive quality that visual art does?”

In projects like this and in their mission as a group, New Poetry members said that they try to push the boundaries of what poetry can be—in New Poetry’s latest issue, the works include a poem that was done as a dialogue with Siri, a screenplay and sketches. “We try to screw around with the notions of traditional poetry and how it is only read within the classroom. We want to make poetry accessible to everyone,” New Poetry’s editor Becca Liu, CC ’14, said.

Writing tends to be a solitary activity if one does not have the bravery to share it with the world, but according to New Poetry board member Reina Imagawa, CC ’15, New Poetry’s weekly meetings are a safe space to take that first step. “I always get really good feedback, that’s not like submitting a poem to a magazine to see whether it fails,” Imagawa said. “It’s really easy to just write poems in your room, but it is important to have a platform to share your work. After coming to New Poetry, I find that it’s really not worth writing alone.”

Liu said that in one of their recent meetings, New Poetry used the “exquisite corpse” technique to create poetry. Each person writes one word on a notecard and later, the notecards are compiled together and arranged differently to create different poems. One of these notecard-poetry sessions actually ended up on their newest issue, titled “Karma and Justice.”

New Poetry also reaches out to the Columbia student body by holding events, such as workshops and dinners, like their event this Friday,

“They [these events] really take our mission statement to life­—taking poetry out of the classroom—as a lot of people interact with the workshop instructor, interact with the professor not in a classroom or office-hours setting,” Robehmed said.

If you are interested in New Poetry, you can check them out during their weekly meetings. “It is definitely the highlight of my week,” Liu said. “I love getting to hang out with people who love poetry, with whom I could talk freely about poetry with. It almost functions as a cerebral study break.” The group meets every Wednesday night in Special Interest housing at 606 W. 114th St.


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