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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Who are the Pronouns?

Not everybody will admit it, but poetry scares people. It's often difficult to understand, frequently brushed off as "boring," and hardly a popular weekend activity. However, for those who find poetry simply inaccessible, there is a remedy nearby.

"We the Notorious Pronouns" (WTNP) is an independent poetry club founded by eight University at Buffalo students in early 2010, with the modest objective of writing, reading and sharing poetry with other like-minded aspiring poets. The idea arose from the absence of a cohesive undergraduate English club. Thus, WTNP was created and now consists of Patrick Riedy, John Cuttito, Peter Williams, Michael Koh, Katherine Kurtz, Jeremy Lessard, Bobby Clark, Vincent Cervone, and more recently, Kayla White.

"Our mission is to show that we, as a group, are proof positive that poetry is not dead," said Katherine Kurtz, a senior philosophy major and one of the founding members, in an email. "We are a movement recruiting able bodies to fight for the livelihood of poetry. We saw WTNP as a way of establishing an ongoing outlet for creative expression where it was lacking, to show people that poetry isn't dead. In fact, it's back with a vengeance; it's dangerous. In this sense we have really been growing into our ‘notoriety.'"

Loosely structured around an editorial board of three volunteer leaders, but mostly a handful of enthusiastic poets, We the Notorious Pronouns approaches poetry a little differently from what most students are used to. Biweekly poetry reading parties give poets a chance to critique and receive feedback in a non-classroom atmosphere. Members are publishing their own literary magazine.

"The magazine is the focus of the group. Volume one is in its second printing and expected to sell out in the next month," said founding member Peter Williams, a senior interdisciplinary degree programs social sciences major. "The volume includes the work of the original eight members of the group, along with a compact disc featuring each poet reading his or her own work."

Karen Mac Cormack, an adjunct English professor, instructor of various creative writing workshops, and author of several books, is cited as an "immeasurable influence" on the group and its work. The group members met through her creative writing poetry workshops and had a desire to publish what they believed to be publishable, according to Riedy, a junior English major and one of the founding members.

"The first issue of the magazine shows an impressively diverse range of poetry, as does the accompanying CD," Mac Cormack said. "Anyone interested in expanding their understanding of what poetry can be should run, not walk, to the next Pronouns event."

The Pronouns will have a poetry reading on Wednesday at the Western New York Book Arts Center, located at 468 Washington St. at Mohawk Street from 7 until 10 p.m. as part of Poems & Pictures: A Renaissance in the Art of the Book, a Poetry Collection sponsored event. An "e-zine" was released during the second week of the same month. More information can be found at

"We are always looking for new submissions," Kurtz said. "Everyone can be a pronoun…While we are focused on poetry, we are by no means limited to that. We are happy to accept photography, short stories, visual artwork, and audio recordings. The window that defines what poetry ‘is' is dissolving. A lot of people think poetry has to rhyme, or look a certain way, or be about certain subjects, or even have words, but we hope to break through those boundaries."

WTNP does not take the rights to the poetry or work submitted when published. Instead, WTNP is meant to act as a venue to showcase one's work. Submissions should be sent to

Additional reporting by Veronica Ritter.





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