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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Poetry slam and film screening to recognize renowned poet

"HOWL" stars James Franco as iconic poet Allan Ginsberg. Photo via
“HOWL” stars James Franco as iconic poet Allan Ginsberg. Photo via

Poetry may seem like an art form of the past, but this neglected and under-appreciated art will be celebrated in Milwaukee Thursday night.

Live poetry performances and a screening of Rob Epstein’s film “HOWL” will be presented by SkylightENSEMBLE and NEWaukee at Marcus Theater, located in the lower level of Grand Avenue Mall. “HOWL” follows the life of the iconic poet Allen Ginsberg (James Franco) as he struggles to write the poem for which the film is named.

Members of Pyramid Rising Enterprises will begin the poetry readings at 7 p.m. with the film following at 7:30 p.m.

Emily Vitrano, the audience development manager at the Skylight Music Theatre, said the “HOWL” screening and poetry event is a conjunction with Skylight Music Theatre’s production of “Hydrogen Jukebox,” a play featuring the music of Philip Glass and poetry from Allen Ginsberg. The incorporation of Ginsberg’s work from the 1950s through the 1980s inspired the event.

“Since ‘HOWL,’ being one of Ginsberg’s most recognized pieces, is a part of (Skylight Music Theatre’s) production, we thought it would be fun to screen the movie,” Vitrano said, “and then invite everyone from the screening back to Skylight to see the production of ‘Hydrogen Jukebox.’”

Vitrano said the SkylightENSEMBLE event will help attendees better understand Ginsberg’s work, familiarize themselves with live poetry readings and witness the powerful impact of the spoken word.

“I think Allen Ginsberg is a huge cultural icon, but I think in some respects he might be forgotten or might not be known by a younger generation,” she said. “So I think students should be excited to come and experience something out of the box and get to know Allen Ginsberg a little bit better. He’s a fantastic poet, but was also a huge icon in terms of freedom of speech and revolution in a number of different ways.”

Vitrano said she is most looking forward to the live poetry performances, an art form she thinks is not covered as much as other cultural expressions.

“We have live poetry events at the performance as well,” Vitrano said.  “The theater only holds like 40 people so, it’s going to be a really tight knit group of people who are going to see these live poetry performances and that isn’t done so much anymore. So, I’m pumped to see that live performance and watch the movie and share this great experience with people who are also interested in this subject matter.”

SkylightENSEMBLE is a group of performers age 21 to 45 who work directly with Skylight Music Theatre. Its goal is to reach out to younger audiences in hopes of getting more viewers interested in Skylight and attending its productions.

“It’s basically access events, that’s how I would describe (SkylightENSEMBLE),” Vitrano said. “It’s a way to get to know Skylight without necessarily having to come and see a show first and kind of get to know us, get to know who we are. Then, they might be more willing to come and see a production.”

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