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April 25, 2014
Vol. 55 No. 22

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Professional poet returns for solo act

This Tuesday will mark the second time professional poet Hieu Nguyen has stepped onto the Charlie's Coffeehouse stage. Only this time, he's riding solo.
In 2013, Nguyen came to Susquehanna as a part of a poetry tour, as part of a package deal with Neil Hilborn and Dylan Garity, well-known poets in their own right.
Nguyen said: "Last year, when the Good News Poetry Tour stopped in to Susquehanna to do our show, we had no idea what to expect. I've been doing slam for about eight years. It ended up being our favorite show that we did. Still to this day, we talk about how amazing that show was - not because of us, but because of the energy in the room."
That energy is something the members of SU Slam Poetry Club, the organization sponsoring this event, are hopeful will continue with this year's event.
Sophomore Christine Guaragno, the clubs Public Relations Chair, said: "The main reason we want Hieu back is because he is a fantastic poet and a beautiful soul. We are hoping that by bringing him back to SU our peers will gain a deeper understanding of how slam poetry has grown into a movement that celebrates diversity and acceptance through art."
Guaragno realizes that not everyone at Susquehanna is aware of what slam poetry is or why they should attend this performance.
"Slam poetry is a beautiful combination of realism and grace, like rap meets Shakespeare. It's poetry that sings," she said. "I have been slamming since I was a sophomore in high school and this is the only stage I've found where skills, like culture and individuality, are both valued and celebrated."
Nguyen agrees with this definition, and cites Susquehanna as a standing example of what a slam audience should be like.
"[Last time] everyone in the room was open and ready for poetry," he said. "We had performed for crowds who weren't listening or willing to engage with us. Those people didn't realize that the poems aren't just about the poets. They're used as something not unlike a Bat Signal."
He continued: "We all are looking for people who we can relate to. We are all looking for community. I think lonely is a universal language, and we are all desperate to find people in the world to join our parade."
What sets one poet apart from another are the standing topics they choose to write about.
Nguyen said: "I describe my work as confessional poetry. I tend to rejoice in my strange sadness, using confession as a tool to reclaim shame. I will be reading from my book, 'This Way to the Sugar.' It tries to dissect nostalgia, culture, sexuality, and trauma."
Guaragno has high hopes for the event.
She said: "We really do hope that everyone makes it out to the event. We have students opening for Hieu and then he is going to be an amazing feature poet. It is going to be overwhelming and wonderful."
The community aspect of slam is a recurring theme for both of these poets.
"Community is important," Nguyen said. "I started doing slam in high school. It's a venue for me to say everything I need to say without the need to say anything more. I have found the most important people in my life doing this, so why would I ever stop?"


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