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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Club of a thousand names brings poetry to light on campus

Genesis Merriett
Jackson Anderson and Kyle Hall pose for a photo in front of the campus chapel. The two initiated the first meeting of Wichita State’s new poetry club.

Kyle Hall has a lot of names for the Poetry Club he co-founded: “crazy club,” “non-social media club,” “oddball club” and “weirdo club” just to name a few.

Hall, a creative writing graduate student, said poetry’s creative freedom, as an art form, makes it stand out.

“What’s great about poetry is its oddness, and in its brevity, I think it has an advantage over fiction in that sense,” Hall said. “We can make a self-contained work that’s short and share it with one another … I want to run with the oddness of poetry.”

In addition to founding Poetry Club, both Hall and Jackson Anderson, the other co-founder of the club, are members of local band Zuzu’s Petals.

After the band’s appearance in The Sunflower, a student asked Hall if there were any creative writing opportunities on campus for them to pursue as a non-English major. 

“That was kind of the impetus for starting this club because when he reached out to me, I realized the English department can be so insular,” Hall said. “It would be really nice to give students who are outside of the English department an opportunity to share their creative writing and be part of some sort of literary community.”

The Poetry Club hosted its first meeting on April 3 in the Grace Memorial Chapel. It was a relatively short meeting — lasting about 25 minutes — but Hall and Anderson said they didn’t want their first meeting to run too long. 

The group discussed three poems, including “Constantly Risking Absurdity #15” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert and “I Want to be Jeff Goldblum” by Adam Scheffler. 

“Some of the pieces that we read today were so strikingly different from one another in their form and in their tone that they use and in their language,” Hall said. 

The poems covered a range of topics, from a new take on divorce and failure to humorously wishing to possess the charm and livelihood of celebrity Jeff Goldblum.

At the end of the meeting, members drew a prompt out of a Stan Laurel mug and were asked to either write a poem based on the prompt or find a poem that fit the prompt.

Hall said his goal isn’t to convince anyone that poetry is important.

“I think that it’s important in the larger sense,” Hall said. “I think art is important, but really, that’s for other people to decide.”

Hall said poetry is very significant to him and how he understands the world.

“My work is very personal, and so it’s hard to even separate myself from my work,” Hall said. “It’s almost like I see my poems as well as my songwriting and music as well because the two are very related, songwriting and poetry.”

The Poetry Club has an unusual structure: there is no official executive board, president, or leader of any sort. 

“I don’t want to be a club president or a leader,” Hall said. “I’d like to just kind of see this thing bloom on its own. I’m cool with planting the seeds of this project, and I’m cool with preparing the packets of poems and doing the logistical, behind the scenes, work. But ideally, it would take form on its own.”

In future meetings, Hall said he would like to do more interactive activities and write poems with the group. 

“I just like to get in the generative space of creativity,” Hall said. 

An important principle Hall holds is abstinence from being online, so the Poetry Club will not have a social media account to follow for updates. Hall plans on having an official email, but as of now, students interested in finding more information are encouraged to email Hall at [email protected] or visit him or Anderson in their office in Lindquist 618. 

“I think it’s important to have a physical space where you can meet that is offline,” Hall said. “It’s going to be a ‘Non-Social Media Club.’”

The Poetry Club plans to host its next meeting on April 24 at 2 p.m. The plan is to start at Grace Memorial Chapel and walk around. Meetings are open to anyone and everyone.

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About the Contributor
Genesis Merriett
Genesis Merriett, Reporter
Genesis Merriett is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore majoring in mathematics, however, Merriett enjoys writing as well. She is originally from Missouri, but lived in Colorado for most of her life until moving to Wichita five years ago. Additionally, she enjoys drawing, crochet and exploring new places in her free time.

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