Poetry: not as terrible as you think

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“Poetry is something that is often overlooked; it’s not something a lot of people are familiar with,” said Allison Tobey, an English instructor at Chemeketa.

Chemeketa is changing this through Soapbox Poetry. Throughout the academic year, faculty, staff and community writers at Chemeketa share poetry that is personally relevant to them in front of an audience.

“It’s a chance for faculty to either read their own work, or work they think is important,” said Tobey.

These events often challenge people’s preconceptions about poetry.

“It’s thought of as something that’s old and that’s difficult and something that people can’t really relate to,” said Tobey. “Going to Soapbox Poetry, you’re going to come across all different kinds of poetry, but I think what you’ll see is that it’s something you can relate to and something you can understand.”

Chrys Tobey reads at Soapbox Poetry in the Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery. Photo by Nick Rogers.

During a Monday in late November, Allison Tobey’s sister, Chrys Tobey, presented her own work, including: “Marie Antoinette Visits the Moon” and “Madame Bovary Goes House Hunting in 2014.” Having featured language that was described in her own words as not entirely “Chemeketa appropriate,” Tobey’s poetry sparked laughter and applause throughout the audience.

Allison Tobey joked, “It’s not as terrible as you think.”

Student Alix Beckmann was present at the Nov. 27 reading. In frequenting Soapbox Poetry, Beckmann used the readings as an opportunity to find creative inspiration.

“In my [visual communications] graphics program we had to come down and illustrate a lot of the poetry reading sessions either by brainstorming or just from drawing various images that you hear. It was a good exercise to think on the spot,” Beckmann said.

Beckmann shared her discovery of Soapbox Poetry.

“I had never actually come through here before, so it was a good experience for me to open my eyes to see what other attractions Chemeketa has to offer that I didn’t know of until recently. It’s a good way to relax and hear what other people have going on,” Beckmann said. “If you get the chance, it’s very worthwhile to come.”


The next Soapbox Poetry will be on Monday, April 9 at 12:00 p.m. in the Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery. English instructor Eva Payne will present “Telling It Slant” in Bldg. 3, Room 122.

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