The faculty, staff and students of The Master’s University were torn between too many options to fill their Friday night schedule: a Men’s basketball game against Embry-Riddle, a jazz night at a local coffee shop, and the men’s weekend camping retreat in Malibu. However, for all those options, an elect few spent their evening between the book-filled walls of the Powell Library listening to poetry.
The Second Annual Poetry Slam belongs to no single department, but is, rather, a gathering between students and staff from every area of campus --- History, English, Science, Communications --- giving them an opportunity to share their poetry with a greater audience. Those participating and in attendance included: Tom Patton, an elder and pastor at Grace Community Church who wore a tweed jacket and read Charles Miller, the host, Professor Bob Dickson who introduced and closed the evening, and Dr. Baker and his wife, who could be seen sitting on the worn leather sofas in the back listening to their students.
Professor Jim Owen, founder of this event and a teacher in the History department, using his own poem “Death of Imagination,” explained the Poetry Slam’s significance, “Everything is visual now,” he said, “and it leaves little room to create things for ourselves.” He mourns the loss of a highly imaginative culture and shared his past as a poet in San Luis Obispo; he and a group of nine other poets could easily fill an entire auditorium with expectant listeners.
Most are not aware of the powerful underground artistic culture Master’s has, even though the entire main area of the library was filled. Owen wants to give those artists, specifically poets, a venue for their imagination to be shared and stimulated; to encourage an almost extinct and unappreciated craft. Though Owen is retiring come graduation he will remain intimately involved in highlighting & developing the literary artists of Master’s. In fact, this spring semester Owen and Dickson are expanding this creative platform by opening up a short story competition.
Poetry is an ever-morphing craft; it can be extremely personal or similar to the lilting and general style of Dr. Suess; neither fitting to be shared on a mere Facebook or Instagram post. This night is a celebration of the artists, the poets and the rare few who take time to hear them.