If you walked into the Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center on the evening of Nov. 2, you would have emerged into quite a different scene than the usual hustle and bustle of hungry and stressed college students. Among those waiting in line to get their meals were the excited and enthusiastic faces of those in charge of Exit 109, Radford University’s student-run literary and arts magazine.
For those who didn’t know about Exit 109, the event in the Bonnie was aimed to do exactly that — make students aware that the magazine exists and give samples of some of the creative writing that can be submitted. Hungry students looked on curiously as volunteers from R-SPaCE and Exit 109 set up their equipment and display — complete with an assortment of desserts and samples of the literary magazine. As the event began to take shape, another volunteer went table-to-table, asking dining students if they’d like to go up on stage and take part in the poetry reading.
Poetry books were passed around the tables as volunteers scribbled their names down on the sign-up sheet. The Bonnie was the perfect place to host an event like this, where Exit 109 could reach a wide audience and get publicity.
Things got off to a quick start as the members of Exit 109 took the stage and read off poems they brought and prepared to applause. The stage fright was obvious in some readers, but they mustered up the courage to read unfamilliar poetry with no preparation. One girl on stage swung back and forth with nervousness, as if she was 5 years old again, wearing a flouncy pink skirt and twirling to inflate it with airflow. Volunteers’ searched the crowd for familiar faces, but most stayed glued to the white pages they were reading off of, for fear they’d stumble over the words.
Poetry is the expression of emotion when and wherever it wants to come out. Poems scribbled in hurried handwriting on the backs of crumpled pocket paper, notes from class, table tents from the Bonnie, napkins with holes from a hard-pressed pen; anything can be a medium for a poet’s words. We heard a lot of original poetry from RU students, our peers expressing themselves publicly because, why not? Write anywhere you want to, anytime you’re inspired. Fellow artists out there, you know inspiration isn’t always easy to come by, so take advantage of it.
If you like what you create and want to show it off and get a little recognition, try publishing it with Exit 109 or taking part in their spontaneous and creative readings, it’s an experience not soon to be forgotten.