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Oregon Symphony Director and University graduate James DePriest took a break from his music yesterday afternoon and charmed an audience with his poetic verse. As part of the University's 250th Anniversary celebrations, DePriest, a Wharton and Annenberg graduate, mixed eloquent poems and comedic anecdotes in his reading in the Club Room of the Faculty Club yesterday afternoon. Approximately 30 people listened attentively to DePriest's poems, which touched on a variety of topics ranging from suicide to baseball. During one section, DePriest, who guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra last night, detailed the sometimes frustrating life of the modern-day poet. "I lament the death of writing longhand and despise the computer and the word processor," he said. "Although I am grateful when someone whose handwriting is illegible opts for the latter." During the hour-long presentation, DePriest, sporting a dark suit and bold floral tie, read from his two publications, This Precipice Garden and A Distant Thunder, intermingling a variety of tales and commentaries between poems. One poem touched on the time he spent in Scandanavia, explaining that the lack of sunlight in those countries directly relates to the high suicide rate. DePriest talked of a particularly gloomy day, when it should have been light. "I tried to think about someone who needed the light on that day, and then I realized how truly depressing it was," he said. DePreist also touched on the drawbacks of reading his own poetry saying that it limits the way people can interpret it. "Inevitably it will be my spin, which in some ways, is the least important," he said. "The origin [of the poems] is helpful for only one point of view." "I am always pleasantly surprised by the multiplicity of interpretations people have," DePriest noted. Several audience members lauded his readings saying that he gave insight into areas that are not often talked about. "It was just the right blend of poems," said Bernadine Hans, co-chairperson of the Black Alumni Society. "The little anecdotes were wonderfully delightful." "His poems touch on so much of life, both comic and tragic," added Clare Wofford, director of the 250th Anniversary celebration. "Some [of the audience] will carry his poems within us for months to come."

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