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August 27, 1969 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-08-27

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Page Six

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, August 27, 1969

IaeSxTEMCnA AL Wdedy uut2,16

Big
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Is

More

food
Aentertainment---br
An alternative is born

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By ERIKA HOFF
"It's the greatest thing t h a t
ever happened to the Student
Activities Bldg.," says one coed.
And with inexpensive food and
live music now setting the mood
of the SAB, she may be right
about the Alternative.
The Alternative is a student-
faculty owned cooperative cof-
fee house. During the day it's
a combination restaurant and
study hall -- but with atmos-
phere. On weekend nights it
turns into a coffee house in the
common sense of the word, with
bands, folk singers, and flicks.
The Alternatives is the re-
sult of a series of unlikely com-
binations. First, it is located
in the SAB, Its kitchen occu-
pies what used to be an office of
Inter-House Assembly, and it is
flanked on all sides by offices
of various studentorganizations.
On sunny days Alternative
action centers outside--in the
SAB courtyard.
Across the SAB lobby-which
the alternative uses for its en-
tertainers on rainy nights-is
the Office of Student Affairs.

But as unlikely as it may be,
this combination is quite prati-
cal. It allows the Alternative to
live rent- and utility-free, and
the SAB will fortunately never
be the same.
The Alternative is owned by
about 500 shareholders. Al-
though it is not a legal corpora-
tion, the Alternative holds mass
shareholders meetings. Every-
one who owns a $5 share is en-
titled to one vote, and the share-
holders determine general Al-
ternative policies.
A few students and faculty
members started planning the
Alternative at the beginning of
the year. Through selling shares,
and by (enerous donations from
al few, faiculty members, Alterna-
tiv founders raised enough
mn:ner to hire a non-student
irne er and start looking for a
place to set up business.
Legal advice was donated by
Peter Darrow, a local attorney.
The Alternative originally
planned to rent a building in
the campus area, but the cost
was too high. Shareholders then
decided to look into the pos-

sibility of using space in the
Michigan Union.
Plans were set to' move into
the Union-which was to rent
space to the Alternative -
when Barbara Newell, acting
vice president for student af-
fairs, offered the Alternative
free space in the SAB.
But the Alternative is more
than an economic enterprise.
The coffee house was founded
in a philosophy -- in the be-
lief that there should be some
place where studenlts, faculty,
alumni and janitors can sit
down at the same table and talk
to each other.
The Alternative founders hop-
ed to provide a meeting place
that would attract broad sec-
tions of the University commun-
ity.
Peter Neito, the Alternative's
manager, feels the Alternative
has been fairly successful in this
respect. "One night one of the
janitors came by and picked up
a harmonica that was lying on
a table," Neito boasts. "He
started playing and everybody
loved it."

-- -poetry and prose
In search of a writer

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By JUDY SARASOHN
The University's Writer-In-
Residence program gives all
would-be authors and interested
students the opportunity to meet
1and talk with a real live writer,
who does not h a v e to worry
about correcting bluebooks for
the next day.
During the author's visit, he
is scheduled for a series of spe-
cific lectures. Any one wishing
to have him speak in classrooms
or have him come to other gath-
erings c a n make an appoint-
ment through the WIR Com-
mittee. The writer-in-residence
also holds office hours for bud-
ding young writers, or readers,
Swho wish to speak to him per-
sonally.
Each year the struggling com-
mittee of students goes begging
in the University for money to
entice a top-notch writer to
come for one or two weeks. How-
ever, the committee - w h e n
lucky - usually can only find
funds for a token payment.
The WIR committee does
boast a large collection of
"thanks but no thanks" letters
from well-known authors - the
most impressive letter being an
elaborate penned note from
Thomas Wolf.
The committee also had the
honor of being turned down by
Ayn Rand, Isaac Asimov and
countless others.
Old Left ideologue Irving
Howe accepted t h e invitation
two years ago. For weeks before
his arrival, he was introduced
to the University in the classi-
fied ads as "Irving Who?"
Unfortunately, for weeks af-
ter his visit people kept asking
when the writer w a s coming
and then saying "Irving Who?"
At least Leslie Fielder - the
first writer-in-residence - from
three years back was immortal-
ized in the English 123 final
exam.
Last winter, the University
community was fortunate to
have two real writers - Jerry
Kosinski, author of The Painted
Bird and Steps, and Kurt Von-
negut, author of Cat's Cradle
and God Bless You, Mr. Rose-
water.
When Kosinski spoke for the

Last year's W-I-R Kurt Vonnegut

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first time at the Lydia Mendel-
sson Theatre, he excited people
and could only be described as A
Writer.
The 35-year-old Polish emi-
gree, who did not learn English
until his arrival in the United
States in 1957, abandoned the
use of notes of any kind (and
of a lectern as well), and ad-
dressed the full house in simple,
direct terms as he attempted to
relate his concept of men and
their reactions to brutal society.
Kosinski also stressed the de-
sirability of freedom - even at
the cost of enduring agonies -
"as long as one is able to run
away."
Vonnegut was another exper-
ience -- just as exciting in his
own robust ribald way contrast-
ing Kosinski's shy sensitivity.
Vonnegut offered the oppor-
tunity to get a truer view of the
writer and his profession, and

how he conducts himself once
in it.
However, Vonnegut maintain-
ed, "If you're going to be a
writer, you must be paranoid.
The thing is, in. the arts if you
don't o v e r react, you fall
asleep. . ."
And so after half his stay was
over, Vonnegut in his paranoia
said he ran out of things to say
and left.
One can not really blame
Vonnegut -- the schedule here
is gruelling, frightening, and
somewhat monotonous for the
man in the spotlight.
Hopefully, the WIR commit-
tee will be able to use last year's
experiences to reorganize a n d
revitalize the program. Certain-
ly Kosinski's and Vonnegut's
visits have revitalized the Uni-
versity.
Now only if WIR can find a
willing writer to come this year.

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A modicum of verse

if your artistic taste leans toward the liter-
ary. you can find what you like in the monthly
University-sponsored poetry readings and in the
many other privately sponsored programs.
Every month a group of University profes-
sors sponsors poetry readings in the Undergrad-
uate Library Multipurpose room. These readings
fea(ture University poets 1i k e well-published,
well-known Donald Hall who is currently work-
ing on revisions of his earliest poems; Robert
Stilwell and Robert Hayden, all of the English
department.
In addition several poets from other univer-
sities have been brought in for the programs
which are free and open to the public. Usually
the readings last about an hour with time left
at the end to talk with the poet of the day.
Several coffee houses like the Ark, Canter-
bury House and Guild House also hold poetry
readings, often as fund raising projects, other
times just to provide a free evening of poetry.
These groups sometimes will host University
professors like Hall, but other times poets will
be brought on for special events. In May, for ex-
*,, mm "rnI1 t ~nnnrv nr llffpfl4 ,, a Ti~rimnnra_

sented a free reading of her recent poems at
Canterbury House.
Sometimes poetry readings with a special
theme are presented like the program last fall
given by several black poets. Artists from the
Ann Arbor-Detroit area gathered in the Michi-
gan League to present their poems and then dis-
cuss the relationship of black poetry to the arts.
Early last fall another special evening of po-
etry was presented when black poet Lerot Jones
offered an evening of his most recent poems and
two of his short plays.
"Generation," the inter-arts magazine, which
publishes poems by students and faculty mem-
bers, sponsors a reading after the publication of
its two yearly magazines. Each artist is invited to
read his published poems, and this program is
the only formal outlet for students to read their
poetry.
Sometimes less structured readings occur
when groups of people simply invite a professor
for an informal gathering. During the winter
term, for example, Prof. Stilwell gave a f r e e
reading sponsored by members of the Residential

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