As President of the Residence Hall Association, Mike Massaroli is not only a junior studying Political Science, but he is a legitimate GW Celebrity. AND, he cares about poetry. Kenny Hoffman recently interviewed Mike about his favorite poem, Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat,” and how poems figure into the life of the RHA.
Why did you choose to read this poem in particular?
So, this was a poem that has always had a lot of meaning for me because, actually, back in middle school we had to do, basically, a poetry recital where we had to memorize an entire poem and deliver it to the whole class, and I was a big baseball fan then and now so, I thought, “Oh, I should memorize ‘Casey at the Bat’ and read that to everyone.” And, I remember, you know, going through that poem over and over again, and sort of, like, spending so much time reading it and taking it in, just trying to get it all down, and I was so excited when I realized, “Wow, I can memorize, like, forty lines or something. That’s crazy.” And I read it, and I got an A, so I was pretty happy.
What do you think the importance of poetry is? Do you think it is important?
I think it’s important because I think it gives us the chance to sort of see the deeper meaning behind things we experience in our everyday lives. And, whereas, like, obviously there’s all sorts of great value in, like, a flat piece of prose, but poetry sort of gives you a chance to dig deeper into what you’re experiencing and to what others experienced and sort of see the symbolism behind a lot of that and see the beauty in a lot of things in the everyday world.
As a public student leader—you’re the president of RHA—how does your private experience with poetry, or, more broadly, your private experience with art, effect your public performance?
Honestly, my experience with this poetry recital in, like, seventh grade, when I was like, “I don’t think I can memorize, like, a giant poem, I think this is going to be too hard,” and I just sat and I worked on it and, like, really absorbed it for a long time and then found that I was able to deliver it pretty well and, like, pretty effectively and sort of, I hope, convey what the poet was trying to convey—it sort of gave me an increased confidence in, like, my ability to speak and my ability to deliver things, which I think has stuck with me ever since. I think that this poetry recital in seventh grade sort of, like, spiraled into something that still sticks with me today.