Yesterday, I went to the poetry reading in the Reece Museum. The event was hosted by Jesse Graves, a professor in the English department. He introduced his book Southern Poetry Anthropology. The book includes poems by eighty different poets. Jesse Graves was the first poet to read. His poem was called, "Elegy for a Hay Rate." It was about working in the yard with his father. The second reader was Jane Hicks, known for her publications in the newsletter, The Mockingbird and for her quilts. Her first poem was entitled "Dust," and it is only published in this certain volume of poems. I really enjoyed her metaphors like "a perjury of promised rain," featured in "Dust," and "lay crucified on the quilt with love," in her poem that I think was called "Felix."
Alan Holmes was the third reader. I am not certain what the title of his first poem was called, but I think it was something like "Awning." This poem was about going to work with his father. He used descriptions like "pentacostal hair" to describe women in a hair salon. His last poem was entitled "Joan's Valley." I noticed in this poem that he contradicted Appalachain stereotypes like "backwards, southern, country." I liked that.
Don Johnson, the ETST Poet in Residence, was the next poet. His first poem, "Grappling," was about a young boy trying to figure out how to catch fist without getting in the water. His second poem was called, "Going to Chattem." It was about going to the family cabin on "Decoration Day." I liked his use of the word "directly" at the end of the poem. It fit well with what he was trying to describe.
After Don Johnson, Ted Olson, receipient of last year's Major Facualty Research Award, read his poems. He read "Writing by the Spring," his first poem ever published, "Swallows," and "River Baptism." I enjoyed "River Baptism" because it was very descriptive.
I did not catch the last reader's first name. I think her name was Areta Quillen. She read "Sunday School Lesson" and "Sugar and Spice." I liked her first poem, especially when she read that "it took me twenty-six years to figure that out, " while it took her young son a walk on Sunday to figure out some spiritual phenomenon. Her second poem, "Sugar and Spice," was about pieces of her girlhood childhood. It was light-hearted and funny.
I really enjoyed going to this poetry reading for several reasons. It was cool listening to the words of members from around this area and I liked hearing stories and experiences in a poetic form. The poems embodied both evidence of a strong Appalachian culture and a knack for literary excellence.