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Archive for March 11th, 2011

Let’s face it—Morgantown and WVU aren’t terribly friendly to those newcomers who love literature, poetry, spoken word, or any number of public engagements dealing with our written and spoken language. In fact, you could walk aimlessly around the downtown area, and if you didn’t really know what you were looking for, the most you would end up with is an armful of sandwiches and ice cream and maybe a newspaper or two.

If you walk into Colson Hall, the self-proclaimed “English Building” at West Virginia University, you’re going to see two administrative assistants behind a wall of glass. And that’s only during working hours. You might find a rack or two of the Daily Athenaeum’s newspapers, the local student rag.

Morgantown isn’t a Starbucks kind of town, either, so sniffing out the coffee, while usually a good lead, isn’t necessarily easy. You’re also not going to find students with dreadlocks on the street corner with pamphlets, a la San Diego, Berkeley, or Seattle.

You just have to know where to look. I’m still looking, and I find new information every day. If you have something to add to this list, please email me at butifandthat@gmail.com. But meanwhile, here’s a starters guide to getting in the lit scene at Morgantown, which is actually quite nice – if you can find it.

1. Go to the Blue Moose. It doesn’t have to be for any particular event. Read the scraps of paper on the boards. Talk to people. Ask about the events. Go to an open mic. Don’t expect the servers/baristas to be friendly, though. The past couple of times I’ve gone they’ve been pretty rude and have no sense of time.

2. Stop by Colson Hall, the home to the Department of English. Yes, it’s not very friendly-seeming to outsiders. You walk in and there is a large, glass wall with a couple of administrative assistants working at their desks. They’re very nice and helpful, but it’s not the best setup in the world for anyone coming in for a look-see. They also stash the literary rags in the grad student mailbox area, which is off-limits to outsiders. Your best bet is to ask about events from one of the assistants. To the right of the door, as you walk in, is a reading room which hosts readings from time to time. The faculty are mostly located on the top two floors.

3. Go to the Wise Library. Great little events happen here often. The English department will sometimes host a guest author/poet in one of the reading rooms that house the Appalachia collections, on the third floor. Don’t use the elevators to the front of the building. You’ll never get there that way. You have to go to the back of the library and take the stairs or the elevator. As with all things, you should start at the local library. Seriously.

4. Have a cup of crappy coffee at Eliza’s Café. Located on the fourth floor of the Wise Library, most students don’t even know it exists until their third or fourth year of college. You can chat away in their café, but keep in mind you’ll have to pool together several tiny tables to get a group discussion going, as their setup only seats two at a time. It’s fun to sit in the sunning window on the southwest side.

5. Want to get into the thick of the news? Go to Martin Hall, home to WVU’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism. It, too, doesn’t seem all that welcoming at first. The faculty and administrative assistants are friendly, but they’re tucked away. You can usually find grad students on the first floor, and they’ll chat with you about what’s going on. There’s a board for events on the first floor in the front and back of the hall.

6. Sign up on the listserv for Morgantown Poetry. It’s in Yahoo Groups here.

7. There’s a Barnes & Noble across the street from Martin Hall. You can find some local publications there, and when it’s not raining or snowing (which is only about 40 days of the year) it’s really nice to sit outside.

8. Check out the WVU calendar of events.

9. Go to the Morgantown Public Library. As the son of a librarian, I must confess that this is one of the worst public libraries I’ve been to in a town of this size. The librarians have been pretty rude to me, except for one lady from India, who is so helpful she makes the rest of the crew look really bad. They stare at you if you have a question. They never smile. They don’t answer questions without looking at you like you’re an idiot. They walk so slow time stands still. I don’t mean to be mean, but I guess you should never be rude or condescending to a blogger. All of this being said, the library is still a hub to connect to the community – even if they charge you money for checking out videos like they’re a back-room Blockbuster movie store with mean, public employees. Also check out their calendar of events online.

10. The walkway in front of the Mountain Lair has some interesting activity when it’s nice outside. You can find people peddling roasted peanuts, challenging each other to do inane activities like hula hooping, or, if you’re inclined towards speeches and other fodder, sometimes you can see political candidates speaking on the steps. Across the street, in front of Martin Hall, you can also find people reading poetry, or dancing around the trees. It’s always good to find the guys with beards and sandals, as well as the girls with armpit hair and homemade blouses and dreads. They know where to take you.

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Every Friday I will be featuring 4-5 animals from the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center that are available for immediate adoption. This weeks animals are below:

 

Tulsa

Tulsa is a 6 year old Female Beagle. She is very loving and needs a home where she can relax and enjoy life.

 

 

Hemi

Hemi is a 2 year old Male Rotweiller mix. He loves belly rubs and long walks.

 

 

Tiki

Tiki is a Female Dachshund mix. She is quiet and would love a lap to lay in.

 

 

Almondine

Almondine is a Male Aussie mix. He is happy, active, and loves to play.

 

If you’re interested in making any of these animals a part of your family, contact Dana Johnson–Facilities Manager at Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center–at (304) 291-7267. Or visit them on River Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

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