Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Friend Request: Garden XV Literary Journal of the Boston Conservatory

Friend Request: Garden XV
Literary Journal of the Boston Conservatory
A SGA project

Review by Rene Schwiesow

When you think Boston Conservatory you probably think: music, dance, theater – performing arts. But at The Boston Conservatory the students are looked at as “whole artists.” For this reason the Conservatory offers its students a wide range of programs both in and out of the classroom designed to enhance their lives. A student literary magazine is one example. Recently, I spoke with Judson Evans, advisor for “The Garden.” Judson has an affinity for the Japanese poetry form “Renku” and he teaches the form to his students. But in keeping with the ideology of the “whole artist,” Evans does not leave Renku in a classroom. I was intrigued by the fact that the students often have Renku ongoing in their dormitory rooms.

What is Renku? It is a series of linking Japanese verse. Each can stand on its own, but also links with the next verse. Typically a Renku is a 5-7-5 verse followed by a 7-7 verse. When a student in the dormitory of The Boston Conservatory begins a Renku, other students may drop by at any time and add a consecutive verse to the string of poetics. Traditionally Renku is a collaborative work.

The 15th anniversary edition of “The Garden,” entitled “Friend Request,” contains examples of this Japanese poetry form as well as other poetic works. A poem entitled “Fourteen Days After Treatment” addresses hair loss as a result of chemo treatments. A friend of mine recently finished a round of chemo. This work hit home for me:

And when people ask, I’m always honest.
What did we do this weekend?
We shaved my mom’s head
and then got ice cream.

Several pieces speak to the social networking aspect of the title. A work entitled “Logged In” is one of them:

I live in mini-feeds,
friend requests,
event invitations,
status updates,
video links,
profile pictures,
chat sessions,
and game requests.

The connections people can now make over long distances gets a nod in “Skype:”

wanting to grasp
the person I can’t touch
one click brings
a pixelated bond

For students living in dormitories far away from their homes, today’s social networking offers the opportunity to remain in touch with family and friends and, as “Friend Request” shows, social networking can lend itself to inspiration. Judson Evans offers the opportunity for Conservatory students to express themselves through the written word in addition to their music and dance. “The Garden” helps to fulfill the Conservatory’s commitment to the well-rounded and articulate student.

For more information contact Judson Evans/ c/o Liberal Arts/ The Boston Conservatory/ 8 The Fenway/ Boston, MA/ 02215

Rene Schwiesow is the co-host of the popular South Shore venue: The Art of Words. Rene can be contacted at: duetsdove@yahoo.com

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