posted on August 08, 2013 16:42
The University of Mobile harbors a group of aspiring poets and scholars who celebrate language every Thursday. Thursday Club is an assembly of students and professors who meet to broaden their knowledge in poetry.
“Thursday was actually a misunderstanding,” said Dr. Douglas Mitchell, associate professor of English and a patron of Thursday Club.
“Tuesday Club was an 18th century literary club in Baltimore, but we used Thursday instead and didn’t bother to check,” said Mitchell. “It worked well for us, though, because it referenced Chesterton’s ‘The Man Who Was Thursday.’”
Chesterton’s novel struggles to determine whether poetry represents anarchy and revolution or lawful order, something not unlike the Thursday Club’s endeavor each week.
“Poetry allows people to recover the impact and importance of language in a world where words no longer mean anything,” said Mitchell. “It eliminates clichés and empty, information-driven language. Empty language equals an empty human who does not know himself. He has no common language—no ability to connect with the people around him.”
“It also connects us to the founding text of the West. Both Homer and Scripture, especially the Psalms, are poetry. The form of poetry connects directly to memory in a way unlike other forms of literature. Earliest people had no written text and poetry was the easiest way to memorize. It was the carrier of culture,” said Mitchell, who also serves as director of the University of Mobile Honors Program.
Mitchell and Associate Professor of English Dr. Stephen Schuler recognized the need to foster poetry and combined their efforts to create a gathering that provoked conversation and study outside the classroom.
“The Thursday Club originally grew out of our own discussions about contemporary poetry. We wanted to include students and encourage them to appreciate current poets,” said Mitchell. “It helps us find our identity in relation to poetry—Thursday Club has become a part of life even when we’re not there on campus.”
Thursday Club usually meets on campus, but graduates can continue to involve themselves with Thursday Club through social networks, phone calls, and poetry submitted on the Internet. Alisha Britnell, recent graduate with the class of 2013 who has since been accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program studying poetry at Mississippi State University, was pleased to know that graduation does not end contact with the club.
“Thursday was my favorite day of the week throughout my college career,” said Britnell. “I looked forward to sharing what I had written, what others had written, and what poets others managed to find.”
Britnell was with the group since its beginning, dedicating each Thursday of her week to the group study of poetry.
“I looked forward to the community of Thursday club,” continued Britnell. “It gave me a creative outlet, but further, it gave me a group of people that were willing to listen and critique my poetry and who would allow me to do the same to theirs. It may not be Thursday on the calendar, but it will always be Thursday in my heart.”¬
Thursday Club provides that opportunity for every student who attends. They bring poetry from contemporary authors—including self-authored work—and present it before other members. Students may share their own written work, building confidence for public performance and receiving suggestions to improve the work.
Thursday Club is open to any University of Mobile student or graduate. To attend or for more information, contact Mitchell at 251.442.2308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story and photos by UMobile senior Will Drake, media relations writer
From left, UMobile student Hunter Joplin, Drs.
Stephen Schuler and Doug Mitchell.
Dr. Schuler and Mitchell meet with students each
Thursday to discuss poetry at a local coffee shop.