Languages & Literature Department Presents Literary Evening
April 11, 2014
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The Languages and Literature Department at the American Samoa Community College ASCC hosted a Literary Evening on Thursday, April 10th in the Lecture Hall. This free event featured ASCC students performing pieces from across the spectrum of literature, including poetry, drama, lyrics and famous speeches. Authors represented spanned the history of literature in the English language from William Shakespeare to Sia Figiel, allowing timeless thoughts from across the ages to come alive through fresh interpretation.
Language and Literature instructor Poe Mageo, coordinator of the Literary Evening, stressed how performance opens dimensions of meaning in literature that are not always apparent from passive reading. “Performance allows students to form in their minds concrete possibilities to interpret ambiguities that often accompany poetry and short fiction,” he said. “It allows characters in a play to become more like normal, everyday people. It’s always an exciting alternative to turn the book upside down and have students form new predictions about the plot or narration.”
Having held their first Literary Evening last year, the Language and Literature Department decided to preserve the format which worked so well the first time, including the return of the Negro Spirituals in the program. In addition to providing students with a showcase for their singing abilities, Mageo feels that the Spirituals have played a significant if not always obvious role in the evolution of American Literature. “Negro Spirituals are part of the American literary experience,” he reflected. “They have a deeper meaning than just ‘slave songs,’ which resonates the human spirit as it yearns to be free. The songs speak of an unshackled determination and faith that one day they’ll ‘lay down their burden by the river side.’ They combine both poetry and living history. It’s equally important how the Spirituals became the foundation for Gospel, R&B, Jazz, and other musical genres.”
For Mageo, who in addition to teaching English at ASCC is also a music teacher and musical ensemble leader of some repute, the Literary Evening will be a parting gesture to culminate his time with the Language and Literature Department, since he will be beginning a new position with the College with its Music Department this fall. “I look forward to teaching Music full time at ASCC,” Mageo enthused.