The Body Electric is Penn's newest student group devoted to poetry. Credit: Jo Wang , Jo Wang

Friends, freshman and all lovers of poetry — lend your ears to The Body Electric.

This new student group, dedicated exclusively to poetry, officially inaugurated their first general meeting Thursday night at the Kelly Writers House.

The group’s motto, as College sophomore and club co-founder Alex Ortega explained, is “all things poetry go,” including traditional verse as well as spoken word and graphic poetry.

The Body Electric takes its name from Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing The Body Electric,” a celebration of the self and its possibility.

According to the club’s group-written description on the Kelly Writers House website, Whitman’s “break from tradition and linking of all life to poetry and beauty” inspired the club’s founding.

But for Ortega, the club has much more community-building aspirations.

“I feel that lots of people do poetry privately and they have a lot to offer,” she said. “Hence, communication with writers is valuable and their writings are very welcomed. We also felt that there is probably no other group like this at Penn.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Ortega laid out some of The Body Electric’s basic goals. She informed the group of about 20 — some lounging in leather couches, others seated on the floor — that “we will meet every other Thursday for workshops and such. There will also be a Sunday [a month] dedicated to poetry appreciation.”

She added that the club hopes also to organize excursions to open-mic venues throughout the city as well as performances by other local poets.

Students who attended the event found this an icebreaker and a time for fun and games. The intimate setting at the Kelly Writers House allowed the group to relax with a few improvised poetry games.

One of these games involved making connections between a randomly chosen word and a picture clipped from various sources.

Another had participants name poets whom they would like to fight for them. The answers ranged from William Shakespeare to Mohammad Ali.

College junior and Excelano Project member Seth Simons attended the first meeting not only to support The Body Electric’s founders — most of whom he knew already — and because “any place on campus that’s talking about poetry, I’d like to be there.”

College sophomore Rosa Escandon, who considers herself more of a slam poet, was impressed with the inaugural meeting’s turnout and has high hopes for the future.

“We’re going to get started with people really bringing in poetry to meetings,” Escandon, who is on the board of the Body Electric explained. “We’re going to have more people come, more discussion on people’s poetry, … more discussion on poetry theory.”

Like Escandon, Simons plans to continue attending meetings through the semester.

He said that during one of the meeting’s poetry games, he wrote the opening to a new poem, which he hopes “will become something interesting in the future.”

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