By Meagan Winker, Staff Reporter
Students at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) recently had the opportunity to listen to Dan Albergotti read poetry from several of his published works as part of the Visiting Writers Series held in the Landing.
Albergotti said he, “read all over the place,” choosing poems from his first poetry collection, The Boatloads, his chapbook titled, Use of the World, and from his soon to be published second collection, Millenium Teeth.
The reading was not as packed as previous Visiting Writer events, but according to Albergotti, UMF was, “the best audience,” he’d experienced so far in his tour of seven universities. UMF was the sixth stop on his tour and the size of the crowd impressed him, since he’d read to a group of only eight people earlier in the tour.
Hannah Huber, a senior creative writing and english major, had read some of Albergotti’s work for her senior seminar class before attending the reading. “I enjoyed the poems I already had read. I was taken pleasantly by surprise by the ones I hadn’t,” she said. “I thought they were very, very clever, especially in answering other poets.
Robin Murphy, a creative writing major, concurred with Huber. “I think he has a good voice and he’s very smooth,” said Murphy.
The poem that earned the most vocal reaction of the night was, What I Wanted to Tell Her about Hell, a sonnet with a different, syllable-based form and rhyming couplet scheme that Albergotti invented. That was not what the audience reacted to, though. “Your heart could freeze the hottest parts of anywhere,” read Albergotti. “Go there”.
The audience broke in with applause and laughter, even though applause is typically reserved for the end of a poetry reading. Several students claimed that this was their favorite poem of the night, either because of what Albergotti called, “break-up poem,” content, or the intriguing form. The choice wasn’t so easy for others. “Oh gosh,” Huber said, thinking for a second. “‘Ars Poetica’ was so moving. That’s gotta be my favorite one.”
Not all of Albergotti’s poems were humorous. In fact, many of them were somber and serious. “I teared up a couple of times,” admitted Murphy. After particularly sad poems, Albergotti would say something quickly like, “Sorry to remind you of your mortality.” He would also mention beforehand if the poem had a, “laugh line,” that could relieve the sad tension within the poem.
The crowd appeared to love Albergotti’s reading and very few people had anything less than adoration for his poetry. Allura Morneau, a senior creative writing major, offered some slight criticism when she compared Albergotti to Ron Currie Jr. who read from his novel Everything Matters! earlier this semester, saying that Currie was more confident in presenting himself as a writer. “I feel like Albergotti could’ve carried himself with the same amount of confidence because he is a very good writer,” she said.
Morneau agreed with Huber and Murphy when it came to Albergotti’s reading however. “Of any of the other poets I’ve seen in any of the visiting writers series, unlike a lot of them, he was better at reading,” said Morneau. “He wasn’t monotone; he could emote.”
Since the reading ran slightly later than expected, the usual Questions and Answers section was skipped. Instead, Albergotti talked personally with people individually and signed books, which were available for purchase at the event.
Albergotti is a professor of creative writing and literature at Coastal Carolina University. His poetry has been published in several literary journals including The Cincinnati Review and The Virginia Quarterly Review. His poetry has also won several prizes including the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition.
Albergotti’s reading marks the last genre-specific writer in the Visiting Writers Series this semester.