By Kyle Kittredge
The mic was open, lights dimmed and the MUB Entertainment Center held about 40 people as students read aloud poems for the crowd, with poet William James featured as the main performer.
James, with huge gages, arms covered in tattoos, and a loud voice, is from Manchester, NH, and has had his various poems published in journals, as well as a collection of poems titled “Rebel Hearts & Restless Ghosts” coming out later this year.
His readings included themes of religion, punk rock shows, trains, small town feelings, and mental health, mostly from personal experience.
In one of his punk rock poems, James read, “on the best nights there is always blood.”
“Mental health issues always show up because I’ve always dealt with them my entire life, James said, “I just try to write poems about survival and whatever it is that we have to collectively get through.”
Although James said, “I don’t really intentionally focus on themes as much as I just try to tell stories.”
Some of his new explorations include “working class roots, coming to terms with the fact that he is the son of a factory worker.”
“I just kind of scribble everything out by hand…the reason I write by hand is because it allows me to violently scribble things out,” James commented, “which is much more satisfying than hitting delete.”
The setting was casual, with James sitting down for a few of his poems.
James also read a few songs from punk bands as poems, calling them “deconstructions.”
James was very vocal, intertwined contrasting themes and held a lot of emotion in his poems, getting positive responses from the audience.
James read a few new poems, dealing with personal experiences from punk rock shows and going to church.
“Do not fear the same monsters as namesakes, I suggest we just grow up,” James said during his reading.
Then James became serious at times with mental health themes in his readings, offering trigger warnings before reading.
“William James, used to go to these open poetry slams in Manchester, and I saw him all the time,” MUSO Arts and Lectures Director and junior Alexa Wheeler said, I loved it, that’s why I booked him.“
Since the show was an open mic, students read aloud poems as well.
Nicholas Rocci, co-director of MUSO read a poem.
One such student was junior Casey O’Dea.
“I love how he expresses himself through his poetry, it’s amazing,” O’Dea said, “so I was really looking forward to him coming tonight because I get chills from his words.“
James described that Jeff Eden from Modern Life is War is his primary influence, as well as the ”first time poet.”
“My favorite poet and the biggest inspiration to me is the kid who comes to the open mic in Manchester and reads something for the first time,” James said.
The open mic poetry nights are hosted by MUSO three times a semester.