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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Westfield State hosts fifth annual poetry reading


Westfield State University faculty, students, and alumni host the first hybrid Hometown Poetry reading in the Arnos Maris Art Gallery. 

This is the 5th annual Hometown Poetry reading. It is a tradition to hold this event on the Friday of Homecoming/Alumni Weekend. 

Zoom gave this event an opportunity to double its attendance with seven alumni in person, seven on Zoom, and multiple current students. 

Out of the seven alumni on zoom, two of the students read their poems from different parts of the United States. Emma Bornstein, who graduated in 2015, was in Hawaii and Woody Woodger, who graduated in 2017, was in Maryland.

Kristin Veber, an alum that graduated in 2017, said, “The emerging and alumnus voices harmonizes is one of the most beautiful moments. I treasure them deeply. Because an owl, no matter how far it goes—can always return to its nest”. 

After the pandemic, this night was the first time some alumni were face to face or saw each other through a screen for the first in over a year. 

The night according to Professor Nielsen displayed the community and connection within the alumni on Zoom and in person.

Woodger said, “I think Zoom as an accessibility tool is one of the few bright spots of the pandemic. The ability to connect from so many places at once is such a powerful tool and I hope it becomes more utilized.”

Multiple current students attended the event as well. 

Senior, Emily Frost brought up her experience as an audience member during the poetry reading.

 “There is something incredibly heartwarming about being able to share your deepest fears emotions and desires without fear of judgment,” Frost said. 

Also, Alumni inspire current students to read their own poetry.

Nate Crane is a first-year from the Class of 2025. He is the youngest student ever to volunteer and read his own poetry. 

Crane said, “It was a little scary to be the only first-year to volunteer to read at the event, but I felt encouraged by how the attendees were a mix of alumni and current students, from freshmen to seniors.”

In the future, Crane plans on expanding his knowledge with creative writing with the hopes of publishing his own work. 

By the end of the night alumni and professors were hugging and catching up on the times they have missed. 

Professors Emily Todd and Leah Nielsen plan to keep utilizing Zoom for future Hometown Poetry reading events. 

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