On Jan. 18, Ben Goldman dedicated a poem to “the girl with the blue hair” walking past, while he was reading works by Billy Collins on UNC’s campus.
When the blue-haired girl accepted his offer, he proceeded to read Collins' “Candle Hat," a poem describing Francisco de Goya’s titular headpiece.
Goldman is a former UNC student known as the “Pit Poet” who has been reading poetry to strangers for about a year. He began in the spring of 2020 when he took a poetry class in Greenlaw Hall.
Greenlaw Hall is adjacent to the Pit on UNC's campus, where Goldman said he saw men preaching “very hateful things.” It was then he had the idea to turn that hate into love by “preaching” poems.
“I just stood there and started — a little aggressively, I’ll admit — yelling at people and sharing poetry,” Goldman said, “making a scene of myself.”
Goldman said most people simply continued walking past him while he was reading, but his goal was not to be heard. Rather, he wanted to offer something different from the typical negativity heard in the Pit.
“I think people move too fast and don’t spend time looking at simple things,” Goldman said. “I’d like to be a simple thing and be loud enough to hopefully grab people's attention for a second.”
However, Goldman said his poetry isn’t for purely philanthropic reasons. He has gained confidence through poetry readings. Despite winning the superlative for “Most Talkative” in high school, Goldman said he still has the same social anxieties as many people.
Goldman said having less control over his situation gives him less opportunity to worry about making mistakes.