Hannah Croft

Cal Poly students and community members can start Valentine’s Day early this year. The annual Loverspeak poetry reading comes to campus on Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.

Loverspeak is a fundraiser for “Byzantium,” Cal Poly’s literary annual, and the proceeds go toward the production process. English senior and “Byzantium” editor Claire Marshall is working on the annual for her senior project, so this fundraiser is especially important to her, she said.

“It’s something different every year,” she said. “Some poems will make you laugh and some will make you cry, and some are even about hating love.”

The event features students and staff’s poetic work, which ranges from classically romantic to comical to critical of romance.

Byzantium” adviser and English professor Kevin Clark called the night “raucous, funny, sad, ecstatic, blissful and angry.”

Marshall described Loverspeak as an exciting opportunity to experience something new. The faculty members who are reading are all nationally published poets, so Clark said their work will be “really, really impressive.”

But what Marshall loves most about the event is the unity between students and faculty, she said.

“I think the coolest part of the night is that it brings students and faculty together,” Marshall said. “You get an opportunity to hear work from people who you really respect. It’s a pretty awesome experience.”

It may be days before Valentine’s Day, but Marshall promised the event wouldn’t be filled with “cheesy and gross” love poems.

“We don’t want cheesy; we don’t want gross,” she said. “We want fun, creative approaches to love poems.”

The event is relaxed, low-key and a perfect opportunity for a casual date or an evening out with friends, especially because the poems read will cover many different aspects of love, Marshall said.

Marshall said she’s already received impressive submissions.

There are many reasons to go, including the event being an opportunity to experience creative writing on campus, she said.

“It’s a great chance to see and hear poetry and support the arts at Cal Poly,” she said. “And I feel like we don’t always get a lot of opportunities to do that.”

Students and faculty are invited to submit their poems to info@byzantium.com.

Entrance to the event, which takes place in the Graphic Arts building, room 104, costs $2 for Cal Poly students and $3 for community members.

“It’s two hours, and you’re going to leave in a really good mood,” Marshall said. “Give yourself a chance to try something new.”

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