A Little Night Music

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Asa Cogswell, president of Sigma Tau Delta, read a few Edgar Allen Poe pieces at the organization's Halloween-themed reading (Facebook.com/Sigma Tau Delta at UNCo)

The lights were dimmed in McKee Hall. Orange string lights glowed against the spider web cloth draped over the podium in front of the classroom. The smell of pizza wafted through the room as classic Halloween songs like “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and “This is Halloween” from the movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” played. The mood was set. It was story time.

Sigma Tau Delta, the University of Northern Colorado English Honor Society, hosted its annual Halloween reading Monday night. The readings include any type of literature, from short stories to poetry, as long as it is spooky.

Hannah Beebe, Sigma Tau Delta’s vice president, was the first to speak at the podium. She read aloud “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.  The poem ends with the famous lines, “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but with a whimper.”

“The poem I chose struck me as very odd,” Beebe said.”The first image I got in my head was scarecrows and the more I read it the more I was like, ‘I don’t think this is about scarecrows,’ but I liked how the poem flowed.”

Asa Cogswell, the president of the honors society, performed two classic pieces by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” Being a theater minor, he performed his readings with dynamic style and power, encompassing the emotions of each character and scene within his reading.

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Kristin Bovaird-Abbo, an associate English professor and the faculty sponsor for Sigma Tau Delta, read a short story by Neil Gaiman called “The Price.” The story is anthologized in his short story novel, “Smoke and Mirrors.” The story involves a black cat who is continuously found injured, it is later revealed that the cat had been fending off the devil to protect his adopted family. The story is intricately woven, life-like and haunting with its details.

The night ended with another reading of a short story by Neil Gaiman. “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” is a story about a child who asks his sister’s boyfriend to tuck him in with a scary story. He insisted on a story about the Click-Clack monsters and their rattlebags of bones, which the boyfriend was unfamiliar with. The story ends with an unsuspecting twist. According to the introduction in Gaiman’s short story collection, “Trigger Warning,” he wrote the short story for Halloween one year.

According to Cogswell, while this event and their weekly meetings are free to the UNC community, to join Sigma Tau Delta, a student must be invited by certain English faculty members. But if interest is expressed in Sigma Tau Delta, it is possible other arrangements can be made.

According to Cogswell, juniors and seniors are the only ones able to be inducted because of national policy, but there are unofficial freshman and sophomore groups that Sigma Tau Delta works with. Cogswell also mentioned some of the advantages of bring part of the honor society.

“The benefits [are] just being a part of really cool group of dedicated English majors who love what they are doing and love speaking and talking about different ideas in the field,” Cogswell said. “As well as a national and international network of people who are involved in other chapters who can get you associations with other organizations or businesses and maybe help you with career options and places past college.”

Sigma Tau Delta meets at 4:30 p.m. every Monday in the English conference room in Ross to discuss various topics about English, literature and writing.

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