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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

More Peach Than Cobbler: Poetry and Self-Reflection

Colgate University

On the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20, students had the opportunity to decompress mid-week and take a moment of self-reflection at a Chapel House event called “Peach Cobbler and Poetry.” It was the third installment of a new series with “p”-named desserts and poetic writing events of the Fall semester. 

The Chapel House’s new Resident Program Coordinator Angela “Angie” Hollar kicked off her first semester at Colgate University by hosting these new events to give students a chance to connect with each other and themselves. Hollar was inspired by poet Andrea Gibson in brainstorming the concept of “P & Poetry.”

Hollar noted that those attending the “P & Poetry” events so far were typically either creative writing experts or students seeking free food up the hill, as expressed by first-year Jack Hirschle.

“I came here because I really like peach cobbler and I know nothing about poetry,” Hirschle said.

At the event, however, peach cobbler was not on the menu. Hollar had committed to staff an event that day titled “Sex Museum: The Intersections of Our Bodies,” sponsored by Chapel House (among other Colgate organizations), and did not make it back in time to prepare the baked dessert. To make up for the lack of cobbler, Hollar shared peach-flavored Tillamook ice cream with attendees.

As for the poetry, Hollar was especially excited about these new events so that she could assist students of all skill levels in their exploration of a new craft. Although Hollar doesn’t consider herself a creative writer, she enjoys creating writing prompts, drawing from her background as a high school English teacher. She aimed to craft unique prompts that would encourage creativity and establish a structured time for self-reflection. 

“Imagine an alien among us, what is something about being a human that they would notice,” Hollar asked. 

First-year MG King enjoys these creative prompts and how they encourage the writing process.

“[It] makes you intentional with your language,” King said.

Upon entering Chapel House for each “P & Poetry” event, students remove their shoes, which aims to provide a sense of grounding. By gathering in the softly lit library, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with views of nature, shelves full of leather-bound books and even an original Rembrandt, students are in a prime space for creativity and contemplation. Attendees are welcomed and have a few minutes to chat before diving into poetic writing. After Hollar relayed each prompt, students took approximately ten minutes to write and then had discussions. Hollar clarified that students are welcome to join at any point during the hour-long event.

The communal environment motivated students to push past their writer’s block, according to Hollar. Halfway through the event, attendees watched a video of Rudy Francisco’s “My Honest Poem” for further inspiration. In sharing vulnerable examples, Hollar hoped to create an open and accepting environment, especially for those new to poetry. 

After their writing time ended, Hollar opened the space up to the writers to do what they wished with what they had created.

“This is an invitation to share anything or nothing that you want,” Hollar said.

According to Hollar, some students went above and beyond with prose of many different languages, including Russian and Chinese. At the same time, many students chose not to share their creations. Met with varied engagement levels, Hollar felt content with the attendees’ diverse expressions of creativity while responding to prompts.

For those who could not attend the event, Hollar shared several prompts for independent practice. 

“Write a 51-word letter to your seven-year-old self,” Hollar said. “Or, write nine lines of honest self-reflection.”

The next installment of this series, “Pudding and Poetry,” will be held at Chapel House on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

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