Students learn Russian culture through poetry
While other first-year language
students struggle with verb conjugations
and tenses, Colby Russian students
memorize and recite traditional
poems. The 8th annual Russian
Poetry Slam, an event started to introduce
students to an important aspect
of Russian culture, oral recitation
poems, was held on Sunday, March
8th in the Mary Low Coffee House. A
sizeable crowd gathered to eat light
refreshments and to listen to the presentations
of poems by the students.
Children in Russia frequently memorize favorite poems and recite them during their school years. "Russian adults commit to memory line after line and can astound American guests with impromptu recitations as you're walking down the street talking about the cold weather or the good food. They always have a snippet of famous poetry that applies," explained Associate Professor of Russian Sheila McCarthy.
For the event, each Russian student, ranging from first-year students to seniors, chooses a poem to recite and a bilingual program is given to the audience.
The students in the Russian classes had been working on memorizing their poems for about a month, and their practice showed, as they confidently recited their verses. A few of the famous poets featured during the poetry slam included A.S. Pushkin, A.A. Blok and Sergei Esenin.
The readings presented a survey of Russian poetic history, beginning with 19th century poetry and continuing to contemporary times, and even included some original work. Olga Stepanova '11 recited a poem she wrote about the snow that blankets Colby for most of the school year.
Also featured during the event were visiting students from a Russian university, native speakers and Russians from the local community.
The highlight of the afternoon was the recitation of a lengthy poem by Kristina Plante, a third-grader at the Waterville Montessori School. "Memorizing a poem is a great way to introduce the important ideas of Russian culture to our students," McCarthy said. Through their recitations, students brought a little bit of Russia to the Colby campus.