Exactly one week from today, the second volume of Alma Mater will be released with 100 new colleges featured in another exciting and diverse collection of poetry. With the release date for Volume 2 quickly approaching, today I would like to give deeper insight into the series and the experience that it provides for the reader. To do this, I am providing a first look at a book review of Alma Mater Volume 1 from the Midwest Book Review which will be included in the March issue of MBR magazine. Information on how to purchase Volumes 1 and 2 are available beneath the review.
One might anticipate a novel from the title Alma Mater V. 1: The Midwest, and such an expectation would be far from reality. One might believe the writing would revolve around a school setting: this anticipation might come a little closer to the truth.
What is unexpected is to find that Alma Mater is actually a poetry collection … not just any collection, but one centered around the university experience, both social and political. It’s here that Alma Mater stands on its own, apart from any poetry gathering that comes to mind; for author Aidoo has taken each major university of the Midwest and sought to capture its experience in poetic form, and this makes it an intriguing approach for any with affection for higher education and free verse poetry observations.
Poems are divided by state, then college, and represent a wide diversity of cultures and perceptions within the college presence. Take ‘ Michigan State ‘, for example, with its admonition to ‘go forth’ and its focus on Spartan beliefs and approaches: “There is magic in this storied center. With a rich basketball tradition, we have hoisted 13 Big Ten/ championships and two national championships./We tried to send out a raven to tell the world of our conquers,/but/Our Magic killed The Bird./Fear the Spartans./Take heed of the army going down the downtown strip.”
Then compare this description with that of Nebraska U: “There are visions of greatness in the Cornhusker chambers,/Bolted in the annuls of the Nebraska Coliseum,/
Forever the Mecca of the Volleyball Mausoleum,/In our sold-out crowds we were a family of strangers.”
From the flavors of games and college pride to how students assembled from across the country grow within the university structure to absorb new values, live new lives, and reflect each institution’s pomp and circumstance, Aidoo doesn’t just capture each college’s unique psyche: he provides a structure and means through which outsiders can understand how a college’s psyche ‘gets in the blood’.
It was hard for the author to ‘put those times away’. Here, in these writings, he has pulled them out and captured them. As collegiate jewels, frozen in time, they await the attention of free verse poetry readers with an appreciation for the college environment and an interest in immersing themselves in each exciting atmosphere that is the university experience among different Midwestern institutions.
Diane Donovan – Midwest Book Review
Alma Mater Vol. 2: The Northeast will be available March 3, 2015 and is available for pre-order below:
Alma Mater Vol. 1: The Midwest is available for sale below for only 99 cents: