Retaining Your Voice: Gowri Koneswaran Performs at Semester’s Final TerPoets

By Marlena Chertock

First published in The Writers’ Bloc.

“This next poem has an attitude problem. I have trouble reeling her in,” said spoken word poet Gowri Koneswaran at the last TerPoets open mic night of the fall semester on Tuesday night.

Koneswaran, who started writing in middle and high school, but only began writing poetry seriously in college, gave a spoken word reading of several poems full of attitude for over an hour.

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Reclaiming D.C.’s history: new online resource lists famous local writers

Juan Ramón Jiménez' house
Juan Ramón Jiménez, a Spanish poet and Spanish Language and Literature professor at the University of Maryland from 1943 to 1951, lived in this home in Riverdale. Photo courtesy of the D.C. Writers’ Homes website.

By Marlena Chertock

First published in The Writers’ Bloc.

This is the first part in a series on the D.C. Writers’ Homes project.  Each Friday for the month of January, one writer who hits close to the UMD campus will be featured.

Roberts and Vera have what they call a strange hobby. They research D.C. and surrounding communities for still-standing homes of authors and record the information on D.C. Writers’ Homes, their online resource that lists about 125 D.C., Maryland and Virginia houses where local authors once lived. The website was released on December 1.

“I don’t think we’re very good at claiming our history,” said Roberts, who teaches the course in traditional verse forms for the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at the University of Maryland. “I think that there’s much more interest in preserving people’s private properties. I wish more of them were marked by plaques.”

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‘Come up here, the stage is yours, share your story’

Pages Matam hosts at Hyattsville's Busboys and Poets open mic two nights after performing at TerPoets. Photo by Codi Gugliuzza.
Pages Matam hosts at Hyattsville’s Busboys and Poets open mic two nights after performing at TerPoets. Photo by Codi Gugliuzza.

By Marlena Chertock

First published in The Writers’ Bloc.

It was his fourth time hosting the open mic night at the Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, but you would never know. Pages Matam, donned in a red bowtie and black fedora hat, seems like he’s been hosting his whole life.

“I love being on the other side of the mic,” he said. “Performing is tiring. Facilitating others is another release after a long day of working.”

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Undergrad hip hop enthusiasts find a home with Undergrounduates

Undergrounduates has weekly meetings where they freestyle or battle rap in a circle in front of Jimenez Hall from 6-8 p.m. Photo by Andi Hubbell for The Writers' Bloc.
Undergrounduates has weekly meetings where they freestyle or battle rap in a circle in front of Jimenez Hall from 6-8 p.m. Photo by Andi Hubbell for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

The first time sophomore Ari Goldfarb showed up to an Undergrounduates meeting, he was too nervous to rap. At his next meeting, members told him he had to give it a try.

The on-campus hip hop and rapping group is now his family, said Goldfarb, who became president of the group this year.

“The first time I did it, it sucked, but no one booed me,” he said. “They just accepted it and it was a really inclusive environment.”

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Struggling with words: Four poets read about displacement

Daniela Elza, Christi Kramer and Nilofar Shidmehr read Ari Belathar's poem "Mother" together in the border crossing session at the Split this Rock 2012 Poetry Festival on March 23. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers' Bloc.
Daniela Elza, Christi Kramer and Nilofar Shidmehr read Ari Belathar’s poem “Mother” together in the border crossing session at the Split this Rock 2012 Poetry Festival on March 23. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

Being exiled or facing obstacles that keep you from returning to your country impacts everything you do in life. For four poets, it is a major part of what and why they write.

Four poets, from different parts of the world, performed group poems about displacement, home, identity and crossing borders on Friday at the Split this Rock 2012 poetry festival in Washington, D.C.

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Poets discuss tension between page and stage poetry

Regie Cabico moderated the session on stage poetry versus page poetry, where poets Rachel McKibbens, José Padua and Jeffrey McDaniel discussed the differences between them. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

Poets are constantly trying to define what poetry is and what type of poetry they fit into.

A panel of four poets, Regie Cabico, Rachel McKibbens, Jeffrey McDaniel and José Padua, led the session titled “Stage & Page: What’s the Fuss” and tried to define and distinguish between page poetry and stage on Thursday at the Split this Rock 2012 poetry festival in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve never felt more bisexual in my life, trying to find out if you’re a page poet or performance poet or both,” said Cabico, the moderator of the session.

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Yellow Rage spreads activism through poetry

Michelle Myers (left) and Catzie Vilayphonh (right) have been performing as Yellow Rage for more than 11 years. Photo courtesy of yellowrage.com.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Public Asian.

Poetry has always been a form of activism for Yellow Rage, a two-person Asian Pacific American spoken word poetry group.“It’s been about education and raising awareness,” said Yellow Rage member Michelle Myers. “It’s about trying to initiate some sort of positive change in the world.”

Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh, who are currently on a college tour, have been writing and performing poems since 2000 when the two met at a workshop set up by Asian Arts Initiative (AAI), a community based arts organization. The topics they’ve covered range from APA women stereotypes, heritage and search for home to human trafficking, sexual slavery and other issues facing the APA community.

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Professor to embark on archaeology adventure

Summer study abroad course to take students on dig in Israel

Professor Matthew Suriano will excavate ruins in Tel Burna, Israel this summer. Photo courtesy of the Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies.

By Marlena Chertock

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Published first in The Diamondback.

He’s been described as the Indiana Jones of the university’s Jewish studies department.Professor Matthew Suriano, who began teaching at this university in the fall, has built up a reputation among students and colleagues for excavating ruins, reading ancient Canaanite languages and working as a serious scholar. This summer, Suriano plans to take up to eight students along with him to participate in an archaeological dig at Tel Burna in southwestern Israel.

“It’s one of the few prominent [sites] in Israel that up until two years ago had never been touched,” Suriano said.

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Alumnus hosts bilingual open mic to eliminate borders

Henry Mills hosts Borderlines, the bilingual open mic series, at the Hyattsville Busboys and Poets. Mills runs discussions on poetry and facilitates audiences to translate poems. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Diamondback.

Before the Jan. 15 Borderlines open mic even started, Henry Mills chose random audience members to translate Spanish haikus and sections of poems into English. Candles flickered on tables and the smell of pizza floated throughout the room of about 40.

Though the Spanish texts were only written in one way, the English translations varied.

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New group on campus works to edit, publish students’ writing

Junior Dex Fitch (right) and senior Brittany Britto (top) offer junior Krystal Moore (left) feedback on her short story during a PYA at UMD meeting on Nov. 2. Photo by Marlena Chertock for The Writers’ Bloc.

By Marlena Chertock

Published first in The Writers’ Bloc.

If you walk into Jimenez 1215 on Wednesday nights, you will be covered in conversations about form, word choice and details.

“There’s an emotion behind why someone is scared or hesitant, maybe explain or show it more than just dot-dot-dot,” one editor said on Nov. 2.

“Punctuation is a visual explanation of emotion versus actual explanation of emotion,” another said.

This was the fourth meeting of the Promising Young Authors program, a new group on campus that makes the University of Maryland the eighth school with a Promising Young Authors program. The program offers student writers feedback on their pieces and the opportunity to be published in the Washington Pastime Literary Magazine, in DC.

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