Repp writes Rock ‘n Roll

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, October 14th, 2021 at 3:01 PM
Repp writes Rock ‘n Roll by Cassandra Gripp
Photo by Cassandra Gripp

On Thursday, Oct. 7th, at 7 p.m., the Edinboro University Department of English and Philosophy welcomed back retired Professor John Repp to speak on his collection of poetry, The Soul of Rock & Roll. Alexander Recital Hall opened its doors for all students and faculty to observe and learn from Repp’s contribution to the poetry world over the years. 

Dr. Robert Hass gave a heartfelt introduction before Repp took the stage, remarking upon his friend’s “student-centered” nature over the course his thirty-years career. He claimed, “There is no better way to kick off the Fall poetry series.”

Repp stepped onto the stage and was immediately taken back to his days of teaching as he looked out at the audience, nearly every seat full of his former students, colleagues, friends, and new faces: “This feels a lot like teaching the first class of the semester.”

He prefaced his reading by saying he would read mostly from his newly-released The Soul of Rock & Roll, and each poem was carefully selected with references to people and events in his life: “I hope you keep listening in faith that poems issue passports to countries, customs, histories, and eccentric citizens that may at first be exotic, disturbing or confusing.”

He continued: “Nothing is more important to me than doing my job well, which means ensuring to the limits of my ability that every syllable in these poems matters.”

To explain his inspiration behind his writing, he read short quotes by a variety of authors and singers: Allen Grossman, Emily Dickinson, Frank O’Hare, Stéphane Mallarmé, Toni Morrison, Bob Dylan, Fernando Pessoa and Sly Stone.

He spent the next 40 minutes reading poems on a variety of topics, ranging everything from music to people to pie, gaining multiple spouts of laughter from the audience as he recounted his passions and experiences through verse. The titles he read from were: “Learning to Type,” “Some Random Shit,” “When Mike Sparks Held the .30-06,”  “The American English Sentence, the Supple, Unforgiving,” “Maxine Dancing,” “Walking in Pittsburgh, Thinking of the Egg Auction and Paul the Putz,” “Setting the Ridge Pole,” “Ode to Pie,” “Allen Ginsberg Had a Heart Attack,” “The Maltese Falcon,” and “Running Past Lloyd.”

He concluded the reading by addressing the writers in the room. “It’s funny how images come to you, and when they come to you. It may be years, and then you think of something: an image, a phrase, something said, something you saw, but it comes back in a way that you have to do something with it.” He encouraged everyone to go with it when they are visited by those muses and not to hold back.

He finished by opening the floor to a Q & A session. He reiterated his love for pie, spoke with admiration for Bob Dylan, and again encouraged writers to keep writing. Outside the recital hall, attendees gathered to purchase Dr. Repp’s latest work as well as the many others in his collection, which can be bought on Amazon for $22.50. 

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