A small group of poetry lovers gathered in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center on Saturday for the Dark River City Poetry Ensemble’s fall performance. The group’s intention is to share poetry and songs in outside-of-the-box ways.
Joseph Weil, assistant professor of English at Binghamton University, began the Dark River City Poetry Ensemble last spring. This weekend’s performance featured a mix of poetry and song covers.
Weil performed an original poem titled “Whoops … The Government Vaporized Your Mother.” This satirical poem tells the story of the government accidentally killing a citizen. After apologizing, the government promises to locate the person responsible and to vaporize them. The government then tells the victim’s family,“We are sorry for as long as it takes, and then we will forget and then we will get on with the business of this great nation, which of course is the business of forgetting.”
In addition to the poetry, covers of songs by artists from rock to blues were performed. Weil and Carol Mikoda, a former BU professor, sang a soulful rendition of singer-songwriter Tom Waits’ 1987 hit “Way Down in the Hole.” Weil also crooned over a piano cover of Luther Johnson’s “If The Blues Was Whiskey.”
Mario Moroni, co-organizer and a visiting assistant professor of romance languages and literature, performed a piece called “Ballata del Maine” (“Ballad of Maine”). The original piece, depicting Moroni’s relationship with his father, is comprised of three separate poems spoken in Italian, accompanied by a cellist. Moroni said he has been combining spoken word with music for years.
“I have collaborated with music composers and musicians to elaborate pieces where the music or images are composed to interact and complement the poetic text,” Moroni said.
Weil also performed a unique rendition of Lenni Lenape folklore “Rainbow Crow.” The piece tells the story of a multicolored crow who had a voice as beautiful as it looked. The bird became too arrogant and lost its voice and its color, becoming the crow we know today. Weil added depth and intensity to his performance by playing traditional Irish percussion instruments.
Emily Vogel, adjunct lecturer of English at Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta, performed her poem “Confession” about throwing away her daughter’s toy telephone when she bothered her in the middle of trying to get work done and the regret following that snap of anger.
Weil and Shane Carreon, a second-year graduate student studying English, performed a call-and-response poem about a relationship in which the pair involved are trying to find each other.
In the final act of the night, Weil opened up the floor to any poets in the audience. Mayra Lopez, a junior majoring in biochemistry, was the only student to take the opportunity to read. She shared her own works, “Taboo” and “Morse Code.” Lopez is also a student in Weil’s CW 350A: Intermediate Poetry Workshop class.
“I started taking creative writing classes last semester and found I really enjoy writing,” she said. “My poems just come from things I’m inspired by.”