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Professor Vividly Paints His Poetry

By Deignan

The C.W. Post Poetry Center began this year’s series with a reading from Patrick Rosal. The reading took place in the Hillwood Museum, October 14th, where Rosal read some of his original pieces. Rosal has also written two books, “My American Kundiman,” and “Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive..”

Rosal never planned on becoming a poet saying, . “I wanted to be a musician, but my father wanted me to be a lawyer.” He says it was a college professor who challenged him to look to his creative side and give poetry a try.

Beginning his reading with a piece called “Freddie,” he was able to take his audience back in time, to when he was a young boy learning how to break dance. Mixing in conversation, dance moves, and Spanish songs,  Rosal was able to paint a vivid picture of an important time in his childhood.

The reading continued with poems about his life; Rosal was able to keep the audience hooked with his lyrical way of speaking, which he attributed to his musical background. He told stories of strengthening his relationship with his father through a new language, teaching a friend the love of music, and the story behind his name.

Inspired by an exhibit of World War I posters on display in the Hillwood Museum, Rosal shared his new project with the audience, poems about the American-Filipino War.  He read poems written in the voices of an American solider, a Filipino woman in love with an American, and a young Filipino solider. Rosal was able to portray the raw emotions and struggles of the characters he created.

Following the reading, he took the time to explain to the audience his process for writing. “I’m inspired when I have a lot of responsibilities; when it’s time to grade papers, I procrastinate with writing.” He discussed the common struggle of creativity with questions like, “is my work good enough? Should I share it with others?” Rosal also talked about the impact of music in his pieces; he even performed improv to show how to use the language of music.

Throughout the reading Rosal was able to take his audience on a journey, and inspire them to find their own creativity.

“It was interesting to hear the music in his words, and the story behind the poem,” said junior Nivischi Northover.

Professor Dulcie Stoepker also enjoyed how Rosal was able to add his ethnicity and personal experience into his poems, “The explanation added to the understanding of the poem and his motivation to write it.” She added that students should take advantages of such artistic opportunitiesy on campus.

Rosal teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and is currently working on a third book.

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