Friday, February 28

Open mike opportunities abound for lovers of lyrics, paramours of prose

Open mike opportunities abound for lovers of lyrics, paramours
of prose

Find your love connection at the weekly poetry reading at
Kerckhoff Art Gallery

By Rodney Tanaka

Daily Bruin Staff

Lonely? Looking for that special someone? Watch out, Chuck
Woolery! To make your love connection, just look for the nearest
poetry reading.

UCLA students looking for love, or good poetry, need look no
further than the Kerckhoff Art Gallery. Every Friday the gallery
will host the UCLA Poetry Extravaganza, with open-mike
opportunities and a different featured poet every week.

"Some of the greatest things in my life have come from poetry
readings," says event coordinator Alex Papanicolopoulos. "I played
one of my love songs and then I read a love poem. I didn’t know it,
but one of the girls in the audience really liked my poems a lot
but she didn’t have enough courage to talk with me then."

I ended up meeting her two months later and she said she still
remembered the song and the poem and we just hit it off," he
continues. "She’s been my girlfriend ever since."

Keli Morgan, the featured poet on Feb. 9, met her boyfriend
after her first public reading. She originally turned to poetry
because of bad relationships.

"I started writing poetry about how I was feeling and I learned
I could work through my feelings around almost any issue," Morgan
says. "My poetry reflects my life and what I go through and the
changes in it. In that way it’s somewhat universal."

Steve Abee, Friday’s featured poet, did not meet his wife
because of his poetry, although he understands how such an event is
possible. "To write poetry is to desire the angels," Abee says. "If
you’re into the angels you’re going to want to find other people
who do too. I think everybody who writes poetry is in search of a

The poetry readings will allow aspiring writers, and angel
lovers, the opportunity to read their poetry to an audience. The
first hour will be devoted to open-mike readings, where anyone can
showcase their work.

"The most important thing about this reading is the open
reading," Papanicolopoulos says. "I didn’t feel good about myself
as a writer before I went out there. Getting reassurance from your
peers makes you feel good.

"UCLA poets will get an opportunity to be exposed to the poetry
world," he continues. "Hopefully there are going to be people that
we get discovered here."

Novice poets nervous about performing in front of an audience
can hope for the treatment given to Keli Morgan. Her first reading
at Santa Monica Folk and Jazz was marked initially with a racing
heart and jangled nerves.

"The woman running the reading came up to me and put my hands
over my heart so we could feel it together," Morgan says. "She told
me that I needed to breathe and that everything would be OK and I
always remember that because it calmed me down so much."

Morgan memorizes her poems so that her readings become
performances rather than dictations. "Through the process of
memorization I become very intimate with my poetry," Morgan says.
"I’m putting into it my interpretation that fits for that moment in

Abee views poetry readings as "a chance to communicate directly.
It’s saying, ‘here are words, here are thoughts and contemplations
that occurred in the middle of darkness.’"

I sculpt with words and get lost in it," Abee adds. "I like
mapping that part of the world and mind, making something that
rings with beauty."

Abee graduated from UCLA in 1994 with a degree in English. "I
went back to school with the intention of learning new words," Abee
says. "I think your writing depends on the expanse of your
thoughts. The more knowledge you have, the more vocabulary you can
pull from, the more experience you can use as metaphor."

Papanicolopoulos says he understands the perception that poetry
is only for English majors looking to graduate. "Look at the lyrics
to your favorite albums, whether it be Smashing Pumpkins or Dr.
Dre," Papanicolopoulos says. "That’s lyric poetry, it moves you and
if you want to be moved, if you want to grow as a person
intellectually and spiritually, poetry readings are for you."

POETRY: UCLA Poetry Extravaganza, Fridays at 8 p.m. at the
Kerckhoff Art Gallery. Admission is free. For more info, call (310)
794-3151.Comments to [email protected]

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