Above Photo: Some of the aspiring poets of the MFA program at SDSU: Alyssabeth Knerr, Binh Huy Nguyen, and Janelle Spencer. Credit // Mikey Balzulka IV
With bright, creative minds that are talented and all have something unique and different to bring to the table – their own reading series can make all the difference.
At San Diego State University, there is the Master of Fine Arts program for Creative Writing. Aspiring writers who want to go into the fields of poetry, fiction and non-fiction all get their chance to shine through this reading series thanks to its’ founder and curator, Binh Huy Nguyen. Nguyen, 34, is an aspiring poet in the MFA program. He also asked a couple of students from the SDSU MA Program of English Literature to participate.
The reading series is called “Thru a Soft Tube.” Nguyen found the inspiration for the name from a line in his poem called “Anatomy of Hookah,” which is an openly stolen line from a poem by Jerome Rothenberg.
Two readings have happened this summer so far, with the debut night on June 19. The second took place post-Pride weekend on July 20. They take place at Prince Hookah Lounge 2 in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. With live readings usually taking place in a coffeehouse or bookstore, “Thru a Soft Tube” taking place in a hookah lounge brings on a new, fun flair.
Nguyen shared about his passion and interest in promoting these talented individuals, also referring to some as serious scholars. “I wanted to get some of the larger San Diego community outside the MFA program to hear these talented voices.”
Now let’s get to know some of the writers a little! Janel Spencer is an aspiring poet, but also a black belt in Kempo, a singer, an an Italian translator. Omer Zalmanowitz hopes to become a teacher, as well as a long distance hiker.
Alyssabeth Knerr is a warm and witty poet who is from New Jersey. She loves to hike and is recently just engaged to the love of her life, Mike Bazulka. Bonnie Opliger is a graduate student in the MA program of English Literature at SDSU. She enjoys going on lung runs and hand-crafting lavender soap. Now, finally to Nguyen in his own words: he loves organizing events—from hookah lounge readings to dancing and drinking outings at various Hillcrest clubs and bars.
“Thru a Soft Tube” has apparently been successful so far, enough to entice random lounge-goers into stepping up behind the microphone and sharing their writing. At the last reading, Rita, is not in the MFA program but she is a lounge regular. She came up and participated, adding to the great, energetic flow of creativity and awe that was radiating around that evening.
From captivating, beautiful poems to short stories to comical plays, there is so much variety of creativity to enjoy at these reading series. Be sure to check out the third one of the series coming up next week on Wednesday, August 19 from 5-8 pm. Be there, get your mind enthralled by these readings while enjoying a smoke or a delicious smoothie or tea!