Western Michigan University was the destination of poetry lovers Friday evening.
Brown Auditorium, inside WMU’s Schneider Hall, was packed with over 400 people who wanted to hear U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine read some of his works. All the chairs in the auditorium were filled ten minutes before the poetry reading was scheduled to start, and more people were still coming in. When Levine entered, people were seated on the stairs on both sides of the lecture hall and many more were standing behind the back row.
Rebecca Mandrell, from Richland, came to the reading because she had heard from a friend that if there was one poet she had to hear read, it was Levine.
Levine’s poetry focuses on personal topics and it has been written with a passion that comes out when he reads. Mandrell said that Levine’s poems came from “the depth of his soul” and focused on “the common man.”
The subject matter of one poem especially, combined with Levine’s fervor, made an impression on Mandrell.
“My father was in World War II, so when he was reading about the World War II experiences and also about Hitler, it touched me very deeply,” Mandrell said. “I could tell that he felt very strongly about that.”
The poems touched the hearts of others as well. After the reading had concluded, many of those that attended discussed the words amongst one another.
Levine ended the night by signing books for many attendees while they enjoyed refreshments in the Fetzer Center.