Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

“Yawp!” Poetry Series

In Art, Event on February 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm

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By Karun Karri, Creative Minds in Action Spring Intern

Recently, the creative writing program at Quinnipiac announced their initiation of a brand new poetry showcase. The goal of this semester-long program is to expose members of the Quinnipiac community to fantastic pieces written by local poets. Last Tuesday was the first of four “Yawp!” Poetry readings. Marilyn Nelson, the former poet laureate of Connecticut (2001-2006) and recipient of the Frost Medal of Poetry visited the Mount Carmel Campus to read select poems from some of her more recent works. Nelson’s work deals primarily with African American historical fiction. The readings that she chose to focus on were from her new book, “Faster than Light: New and Selected Poems.” Unfortunately, Marilyn arrived late to campus and was only able to read for half an hour. Nevertheless, her works were both beautiful in language and theme. Many of her poems dealt with the social and political attitudes towards African Americans in the later half of the nineteenth century.

The first work Nelson read was set in post Civil War Manhattan in an area in which there was an abundance of free African Americans. In the poem, Nelson captured the anxieties and fears felt by that community. At that time, the government planned to use eminent domain to create what is now the upper section of Central Park. The poem is in the first person and told through the viewpoint of a local hairdresser who is opinionated and weary of government officials. Personally, I found her work possessed a fair amount of wit balanced with beautiful visual descriptions of simple places and ideas. In essence, the strength of her poetry was in her superb command of the English language. Each of her pieces had an uncanny ability to inspire emotions in the minds of each listener in the room.

As a student currently enrolled in a creative writing class, I can fully appreciate Nelson’s talent for crafting words into beautiful yet consequential phrases. Her newest book of poetry contains over 100 unique poems. Personally, trying to write one poem for homework before class is a daunting challenge at best. Certainly, the most encouraging point worth noting was the tremendous turnout at the event. There was standing room only in a small room that could hold about fifty people. The large attendance is a trend that I believe is starting to trickle into many on-campus artistic events. I am excited to see what the next poet in the series will have to offer.

Editor’s Note: Photo by Kyle Gravitte ’13

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  1. I find it interesting that Ms. Nelson is currently enrolled in a creative writing class!

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