Proud Larry’s hosted its fourth and final Broken English event of the semester on Tuesday, featuring readings of selected works of poetry and short fiction from three students in the English master’s degree program.
The house was packed, with every seat filled and many people resorting to standing in various places throughout the building. Generally, Broken English features two students who read their works; however, for this final event of the semester, three readers presented. Jessica Cogar and Joshua Nguyen read some of their poetry, and Linda Masi read selected pieces of fiction.
Cogar’s assortment of poetry showcased several pieces, including “Red Kitchen Red Hour,” “The River is Beautiful, But Which River Are We Talking About?” and other poems about a variety of topics. A few of her poems she called her “Ohio” pieces, which referenced her home state of Ohio. She also read poems about birds, a topic she said she writes about often. Cogar even had a piece referencing the mythical sphinx.
“It’s a nice mix of older material, some of my ‘Ohio’ pieces and some newer material, as well,” Cogar said.
The crowd certainly connected with her visceral work.
“I liked sphinx poem,” Taia McAfee, a sophomore accounting major, said. “I thought it had the best flow, and I liked that it was based on the sphinx.”
Linda Masi read second, presenting three pieces of fiction, “My Mother Never,” “Olympia Hotel” and the longer piece “At Thirteen.”
Masi said her works were inspired by personal experiences but were not necessarily about her.
“At Thirteen,” in particular, was based on her experiences with terrorism and her life in northeastern Nigeria. This final piece of fiction seemed to strike a chord with the audience.
“I liked the way she contrasted the trauma happening to the main character with events from the main character’s past,” junior English major Victoria Mulqueen said.
Nguyen presented last, choosing poems highlighting a theme of food. His poems ranged in topic, from barbecue and an Asian restaurant Yelp review to a poem about his favorite Vietnamese dish.
“I recently became a cook,” Nguyen said. “I’m a not a foodie or anything, but I think food can signify moments in life, and it can also show someone’s culture and history.”
Nguyen’s comedic poetry brought the house down with his humor and presentation. He began his reading by making a fruit pun and finished by reading two poems that “defended” fruit jokes.
“It was phenomenal and relatable,” international studies major Ashton Acree said.
While it has finished for this semester, Broken English will return to Proud Larry’s in the spring semester with readings from the third-year MFA students.