VOICES: SMCM Honors Professor Angela Draheim, Poet Aracelis Girmay During Evening to Honor Lucille Clifton

On Thursday, March 1, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) hosted a special VOICES reading sponsored by the Office of the President entitled “Nurturing a Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton.”

Poet Elizabeth Alexander, famous for her presentation of “Praise Song for the Day” at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, came to present the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award to one of her former pupils, Aracelis Girmay.

At the reading, Assistant Professor of Psychology Angela Draheim was honored with the President’s Lucille Clifton award to recognize her “contributions to creating a campus climate of understanding and compassion.” According to Dr. Jordan, students nominated Draheim because of her “uplifting spirit” and “working behind the scenes to ensure others thrive.”

The evening also featured several performances from Brian Gantz, including a song by Clifton’s favorite composer. In attendance for the tender moment were two of Clifton’s daughters, Alexia and Gillian.

The event opened with introductions from Professor of English and Director of the VOICES reading series, Karen Anderson, who asked the audience to consider “how do you keep compassion, community, and justice alive, not just for a night, but through adversity, and over time?”

Anderson invited Michael Glaser to the stage, who spoke fondly of his memories with Clifton before inviting one of Clifton’s former pupils to speak.

President Jordan followed him and spoke of her admiration for Clifton, despite the fact that they had never met. She recalled times of calling on Clifton’s spirit to guide her in leading the college, even calling her her “soulmate.” She then presented Draheim and Girmay their awards, as well as honoring Alexander for selecting the recipient of the Legacy award.

The evening moved forward with musical interludes from Gantz before returning focus back to the poets. Girmay introduced Alexander to the audience, saying, “She is a person who I admire greatly, for the seriousness and joyfulness with which she approaches the world…She reminds her readers how important it is to engage with our full, embodied lives: with what comes, what is coming, and what has left us.”

Alexander read a progression of poetry, starting with Clifton’s work, performing poems such as “won’t you celebrate with me” and “testament.” She then moved through a poem of her own words intertwined with Clifton’s, both pieces dealing with their widowhood. Alexander  performed some original poems, including “First Word of the Mass for the Dead” and “Rally, 2008.”

Alexander then introduced Girmay, saying, “like Lucille Clifton, Aracelis Girmay channels all souls through her soul, and crafts them into carefully made music– her music, of course, is her poems.”

Girmay followed Alexander’s lead, first reading Clifton’s “oh antic god” before moving into her own pieces, including “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made me a Card,” “Second Estrangement,” and “Ars Poetica.”

The night concluded with Glaser prompting the audience to hold hands as a recording of Clifton reading “blessing of the boats” was played. He noted that she once asked students to hold hands at the beginning of class, offering only the explanation that “ holding hands is better than not holding hands.”

The next VOICES reading, a “Writer’s Harvest,” will take place at 8:15 pm on March 8 at Daugherty-Palmer Commons. The event is free and open to the public.

VOICES Series: Alan King

Poet Alan W. King has a hypnotic way of describing food. Cuisines of different locales and cultural traditions are a mainstay of the Maryland poet’s 2017 collection of poetry, “Point Blank,” with the flavors of his childhood seeping into his words. He speaks of his craving for bananas — “spooned body to body / like small yellow kayaks” (“I wanted bananas—”) — or the way his mother cooks curry — “in a bubbling bath of cumin, / turmeric and cayenne pepper” (“The Hostess”) — with reverence, and a cutting and quiet focus that hauls the listener at full strength into King’s memories.

King’s language can have that effect, even when not following the scent trails of barbecue and Caribbean food that are woven throughout “Point Blank.” On Jan. 25, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) students were treated to that pull into memory with a selection of King’s poetry at the first VOICES Reading Series event of the spring semester.  

English professor Karen Anderson, director of the VOICES Series, introduced the night’s speaker, saying, “Alan King’s work is big — political, social in its scope, unwavering in its commitments to justice — but it also feels intimate, personal and complex.”

That could be seen throughout the night’s 45 -minute reading, as King used vivid and personal images to draw in the listener, and then at times jolt them from their comfortable place as observers. In one of the night’s most powerful pieces, “Striptease,” King describes an incident in which his 17-year-old nephew was detained, trying to return a blouse for his mother at Target.

In the poem, King and his wife get the call to pick him up on the way to dinner, told that “the store closes in twenty minutes. / Then he’ll be cuffed and bounced to a detention center.” The poem gets caught again in a tangent of food — the samosas and basmati rice, flying “fragrant kites,” waiting for them at that restaurant they’ll never get to — “But the appetites vanish in the U-Turn.”

King and his wife arrive in time to save their nephew from criminal charges, but not from the humiliation of racial profiling. Many of the poems King shares from “Point Blank” deal with this loss of innocence, forced too early on the young by a system that works against them, showing them violence and violation at every turn. “I’m sick of this striptease / we’re forced to perform when Authority / smacks us back in line for thinking / we’re like everyone else,” King continues in “Striptease.”  

The book’s title comes from a poem of the same name, in which a 12-year-old King is playing with a friend when they find the boy’s father’s gun.

Of his nephew, King says, “The incident at Target / is them popping his cherry.

English professor Jeffrey Coleman also gave introductory remarks before King’s reading. “One thing that I’ve gathered from spending some time with him today,” said Coleman, “is that he is a very compassionate soul, a very caring husband and father [and] of course a tremendous writer.”

Alan W. King lives in Bowie, Maryland, with his wife Jasmine and their two-year-old daughter. A poet, as well as an author, journalist and videographer, King has written for Baltimore’s “Afro-American Newspaper,” and is an alum of the MFA Creative Writing Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine, as well as a graduate fellow of the esteemed Cave Canem program for African-American poets.

The next VOICES Reading Series event is in Cole Cinema, on Feb. 15 at 8:15 p.m. Nationally recognized slam poet Porsha Olayiwola is a student-selected speaker, brought to SMCM in part by the Student Government Association, Black Student Union and Young Progressives Demanding Action.

Andrea Gibson Represents Gender Galaxy at SMCM

At the 2017 National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) convention, Aissatou Thiaw, ‘20, Director of Awareness and Diversity for the Student Government Association (SGA) and Programs Board searched for possible events to host on campus this semester. So far as a result of the conference, spoken word artist Andrea Gibson and comedian Subhah Agarwal have performed at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM).

Gibson’s poetry discusses issues including gender and sexuality struggles, politics and social reform. They performed in Cole Cinema on Jan. 24 as part of their Hey Galaxy tour.

Thiaw states that as the Director of Awareness and Diversity for the SGA and Programs Board, it is her job to bring in events to help our school move toward a more inclusive environment and to raise the issues that are harder to talk about.

“When we think of diversity we usually think of one thing, but there are so many facets to it — gender roles, sexuality, race —  the fact that we can bring in people who showcase these things helps. My ultimate goal with this is to make our campus more friendly, accepting, more aware and ready for the real world,” said Aissatou of the event.

Gibson opened their set by thanking students for attending, noting that the peaceful college atmosphere was “refreshing” after tour stops in bars and clubs.

The first piece they performed was a love poem entitled “Maybe I Need You.” Then Gibson moved to social commentary pieces like “To the Men Catcalling My Girlfriend as I’m Walking Beside Her” and “Photoshopping my Sister’s Mugshot,” as well as a poem in remembrance of the victims of the 2015 Pulse Nightclub massacre entitled “Orlando.” Alongside “Orlando,” Gibson performed their poem “Your Life,” which dealt with LGBTQ struggles in everyday life.

At one point in the show, they noted that they wished “more Trump supporters would come to my shows, since half of my poems are about them and they never [expletive] hear them”.

During the show, Gibson invited their longtime friend and fellow poet, Natalie Illum, to the stage. Illum, only visiting the tour from her residency in Washington, D.C., performed two of her original pieces, a spoken word poem titled “Blueprint” and an unpublished haiku.

As the show wound down, Gibson encouraged the audience to join them and their touring crew in singing “Stand by Me”. The show ended on an emotional note, as Gibson’s poem “The Nutritionist,” about living with mental illness, moved audience members to tears.  

Gibson noted their enjoyment of the gender galaxy painting hanging in the all-gender restroom across from Cole Cinema, commenting its likeness to the name of their tour.

The show was also Gibson’s first since the publishing of their book “Take Me With You,” released Jan. 23, 2018. According to Gibson’s website, the book is “small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you, from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.”

For more information on Andrea Gibson or to purchase their book, visit andreagibson.org.

Last VOICES Reading Features Poems On Scientific Phenomena ,“Orphaned Images”

On Thursday, April 21, this year’s VOICES Reading Series ended with a poetry reading from Linda Bierds, professor of English at University of Washington and author of First Hand. Bierds read poems from several of her collections and ended with more recent work, sequencing her reading in order to convey “the arc of [her] career.”

With poems that often stem from “moments on PBS or from reading a newspaper clipping,” as Bierds explained, her poetry frequently deals with scientific phenomena and “orphaned images” that she said she morphs together in order to reveal the similarities she sees. In “Memento of the Hours,” Bierds morphed together the image of a late 18th century refrigeration room with the image of bluebell syrup used to stop choir boys’ voices from cracking. Bierds described a refrigeration room chilled by a brook running below it, bluebells releasing their elixir, “a dram of postponement.”

The poems Bierds read from one of her most recent collections, First Hand, dealt with the potential to misuse science. Gregor Mendel, a monk and scientist, served as “a guide through science in the centuries.” In “Counting: Gregor Mendel in the Prelacy,” Bierds combined mathematics and a spiritual sense of nature with pastoral images such as “pale / symmetrical petals of snow.” It concluded with Mendel’s prayer: “Holy father, do not think that I think of you less / when I think of you mathematically.”

Bierds ended her reading with poems from her upcoming collection. Transposing a 19th century chemist to the 1940s, Bierds contemplated an article she read on mirrors and light in “On Reflection: Michael Faraday, 1940.” Since mirrors need to be half as large as the objects they reflect, a small mirror will never hold a complete image of the poem’s swans, no matter how far back the scientist moves the mirror.

Bierds’ Faraday character laments that “the mirror [is] too small for the swan,” “unlike thought, which easily triples or transforms the whole” as the “image doubles the distance before you.” Unlike Bierds’ poetry, which easily combined the inquiring images of science with the awed contemplation of the unknown, Faraday’s mirror is “the mirror that will never contain the whole of it.”

Like her concluding poem, “The Swifts,” an exploration of the wonder of thousands of birds that fly backwards into a chimney against a “sunset that stains their bellies,” Bierds’ poetry did not merely explain what surprises. In the voices of characters throughout history, Bierds’ focused images themselves caused surprise—the brittlestars in “Questions of Replication: The Brittlestar” reproduce through self-division and with their thousand eyes “look towards the self for completion.” With Bierds’ reading finishing off this year’s VOICES Reading Series, the audience instead are like Dorothy Wordsworth in “Shawl: Dorothy Wordsworth at Eighty”—“all we have passed through sustains us.”

 

Street Talks Poetry and Environmentalism

On Thursday, March 3, Laura-Gray Street, a visitor to artist house, spoke to St. Mary’s students and faculty with poetry about love, family, and the environment in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).

Professing her love of St. Mary’s pond and shoreline management, Street told students that her use of “scattervision”  when writing poetry was augmented by the St. Mary’s atmosphere.

She began her reading with poems titled “Meet Me at the Speed of Light,” “Vertigo,” “First Lessons of Bee Keeping,” and “Ring Necks.”

“Meet me” entwined the science of genes and natural processes with the search for knowledge and the meaning of soul.

“Vertigo” carried undertones of parenting and its successes; “First Lessons” dealt with the tantric nature of change and youth/growing-up; and “Ring Necks” focused on using the poetry of “other.”

Street’s poetry masterfully mixed scientific fact with artistic exploration. Junior Gursharan Kaur Bawa said her poetry was “really intriguing…[by] mixing science with art.”

Street mentioned that her poetry is driven by, among other things, the examination of human & industrial waste problems versus the beauty and preservation of nature.

Senior Anina Tardif-Douglin said her most pervasive theme was “definitely nature…kind of a fear of the diminishment of nature,” and that “she uses such scientific language and…she makes it sound evocative.”

Street continued her reading with a story of how she hates using syntactic expletives in her poetry but worked hard to write a poem using them as the central poetic device.

She also spoke of her writings of dark poetry which focused on social ills. She wrote on topics such as animal cruelty, war, and childhood delinquency.

Street then read a poem satirizing the existence of a tank stuck in a river for nearly 20 years. She later commented that her love for the environment, being the most foundational theme of her writing, is why she wrote this and many of her other poems.

Senior Sasha Todak said “her poetry reveals environmental issues that become accessible to any person.”

Street concluded her reading with two “ekphrastic poems”: “On Michael Stringer’s Microphotograph: Crain Fly,” and “Goya’s Dog.”

‘Crain fly’ focused on the beauty and complexity of all species, even the smallest and ‘Goya’s Dog’ was more personal with tales of Street’s parents, her family dog, and the power of symmetry in the universe.

Todak said, “It wasn’t just a poetry reading, it was a literary and scientific performance.”

 

Feminism, Poetry and Sex Fuse at Lecture

Barbara Baumgartner, in her presentation on Victorian-era popular medical texts, combined her background as both a nurse in neurology and as Associate Director in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis into a unique, “historical-medical” approach to seeing the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Baumgartner’s gave her lecture, formally titled (Un)Sexing the Body in Nineteeth-Century Anatomy Texts, to a crowded classroom of students and professors on Nov. 11 in Montgomery Hall 101. Baumgartner was introduced first by Professor of English Karen Anderson, who talked about her personal experience with Baumgartner as a “role model fo how knowledge can do good in the world.”

Professor of English Beth Charlebois then came up to further introduce Baumgartner and her myriad of talents as not only a professor and teacher but a marathon runner, chef, and gardener, and said, “[she is], much more than I, a true renaissance women.”

Baumgartner started her lecture by talking about how she arrived at the study of nineteenth-century popular anatomy texts through her study of the use of the body in Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and said, “after all, everything comes back to Dickinson.”

According to Baumgartner, Dickenson studied anatomy in what Baumgartner classified as “popular” anatomy textbooks at Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

What she looked at the texts that Dickinson studied, she found an “incredibly detailed” body of texts which were based off of a “vigorous health reform movement to counter what they called ‘heroic medicine’.”

According to Baumgartner, the first ‘popular’ anatomy books, aimed at primary and secondary schoolchildren and “home use”, came out in 1834; by the end of the nineteenth century, over 60 popular anatomies were published. They consisted of sections on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene.

These popular anatomies, according to Baumgartner, “represent a largely unsexed and ungendered body”, something that set them apart from their counterparts written for practicing doctors. Baumgartner said, “[the] language choices represent a desire to apply to both male and female readers.”

For example, many authors take pains to not gender characters in their anatomies, and gender-specific instructions for hygiene are almost unheard of.

In contrast, in medical texts of the time “male and female bodies were presented in fundamentally different ways.” Baumgartner said that medical texts, instead of remaining gender-neutral, saw the genders as more different than alike and interpreted anatomical differences as being the reason for most, if not all, gender differences.

She added, “always the female was compared to the male, whom is the standard from which the female deviates.”

Baumgartner attributed this radical difference to the authors of the text themselves, whom she said were far more progressive-thinking in their views on women. Many of the authors, for example, openly expressed the notion that women and men were physical and intellectual equals.

She pointed out that a major focus of the anatomical textbooks was on encouraging women to exercise, which was against the stereotype of women being “dainty” and “frail”. These texts also took aim at fashions of the time. Baumgartner said, “[the authors were] really concerned about corsets that would get womens’ waists down to about 12 inches, something really scary to think about.”

Baumgartner said, “I’d like to argue that [these texts] cannot but have helped women’s perceptions of themselves as similar to men, and provided some ammunition for the growing womens’ rights movement that really took off in the nineteenth century.” She added, “Changes in our understanding and perceptions of the body really influence our ideas and conceptions about ourselves.”

Baumgartner concluded her lecture by coming, once again, back to Dickinson. In order to show the specific impact that studying anatomy had on Dickinson, she identified what she noted as around 20 “brain poems”, or poems that she believed could be interpreted through nineteenth century ideas about the human brain.

To drive her point home, she interpreted the poem I Felt a Funeral in My Brain in this manner, describing the conflict present in the poem being analogous to the “difficult, almost paralyzing state the precedes writing”.

She further said that the ideas of falling and descent present in the poem actually may have been meant to mirror the brain’s structure as known during the time period, in which the top layers controlled logical thought and reason and the lower layers represent more primitive parts of human consciousness. She added, “the speaker’s plunge may be seen as an escape of the deadening and deafening rhythm of reason.”

Students found the lecture a unique take on Dickinson and literary analysis in general. Junior Casey Dong said, “I would never think to look at poems from a medical perspective.” First-year Arianna Pray said, “I thought it was real informative and it was great to get an idea of the mindset of the period.

Senior Lauren Grey said, “I had discussed [the Dickinson poem] in class, but it was fascinating to see the poem in a different way than I had ever done before”.

Voices: Legal Laureates

On the evening of Oct. 28, poets Brian Gilmore and Karl Carter read and discussed their poetry. Despite such similarities as some of their poems being based on their experiences as both practicing lawyers and prolific poets in Washington, D.C., Gilmore and Carter had different styles that nonetheless complemented each other.

Gilmore presented his poetry first; the poems he chose to read touched on various points from his early teenage years through his years in law school.

His poem “Revolution” described living under and rebelling against the teachings of his father until “The will of the monarch [Gimore’s father] became our will.” This was a fitting poem to start with because it described Gilmore’s growth in maturity.

The following poems described this gradual progression of maturity as he traveled through school, learning through relationships with roommates, trials such as his family being accused of being Communist sympathizers, and drugs, like “…malt liquor, that magical elixir.”

Gilmore’s poetry was infused with humor, often eliciting chuckles from the audience. The works Gilmore read suggested a lifetime of growth and optimism as he struggled against the vicissitudes of life.
When the poets switched and Carter stepped up to podium and began reading, the audience was exposed to a much different experience.

While it was clear that both poets were influenced by the environments and times they were living in, Carter’s poetry much more directly struggled with and attempted to understand the historical and cultural influences in his life.

His poems were personal in a different manner from Gilmore’s poetry. In his poem “Heroes” he approaches the subject of the civil rights movement and African-American leaders through history. Reflecting on their influence he said, “I am somewhere between battles/…I sit lost, weeping.”

The Black Panthers, various musicians such as Langston Hughes, and sharecroppers all made appearances in Gilmore’s poetry. Carter’s poetry, in contrast, was self-reflective, as he attempted to connect to his personal as well as his cultural history. Images of the South, of “barren fields” and “empty plantation houses” are redolent of Carter’s search for meaning in his travels.

Audience members enjoyed the performance as well as the variation in the poetry. Senior Carla Bacon said, “All their poems were very culturally relevant to them. They all had stories within the poems.”
Sophomore Emily Burdeshaw said, “I liked the informal feel to [Gilmore’s] poetry.” Carter’s poems “were short. You didn’t expect [the poem] to end, but you absorbed the images that were given.”

Voices Reading Given To Packed House By SMCM’s Own JCB

Professor Cognard-Black gave her first ever VOICES Reading to a packed crowd on Thursday. (Photo by Ryan Gugerty).
Professor Cognard-Black gave her first ever VOICES Reading to a packed crowd on Thursday. (Photo by Ryan Gugerty).
On Thursday, Oct. 14 St. Mary’s Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black gave her first ever VOICES reading.

Professor Cognard-Black is an English Professor and the coordinator of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality program at St. Mary’s. Professor Cognard-Black has written three books with a fourth on the way, and has recently been featured on the cover of Ms., a magazine to which she regularly contributes.

Several months prior to the reading English Professor and VOICES director Karen Anderson asked Cognard-Black’s students-past and present- if they would be interested in writing a piece about her so that Anderson could create a memento for Cognard-Black to have at the end of her reading.

The reading itself was incredibly packed with every seat full and extra seats being set up till the very final moment. As Anderson put it, “Welcome JCB fans: You are legion!”

This was referencing not only the fact that Daugherty- Palmer Commons was packed with swarms of Cognard-Black supporters, but that the VOICES reading was competing with the opening of Hay Fever and the I Heart Female Orgasms event.

Professor Jeff Hammond introduced Cognard-Black by citing her as someone who does it all. “I was thinking about how to introduce my friend and colleague Jennifer Cognard-Black, and I thought of that old saying ‘do it all.’ Now most of us don’t ‘do it all’ but Jennifer does,” said Hammond.

He cited her influence in the editing of his own work and how it has helped him in the past. “…When JCB gives a comment about my writing, I listen.” When Cognard-Black took the mic she began her reading with a bit of self-deprecation. “As many of you know I’m not practically funny or sexy, but I’ll do my best to delight the head and the heart, as well as, other anatomical parts.”

She then proceeded to thanks multiple groups of people who have inspired and aided her over the years – a large majority being past and current St. Mary’s Faculty.

She gave a particularly heart-felt thank you to her husband Andrew and daughter Katherine and dedicated her reading to them.

The actual reading began with Cognard-Black reading two poems she wrote about her daughter, whose birthday it was coincidentally. These poems were very much directed to her daughter to whom she wished a happy 11th birthday when she finished, a gesture which made the whole room “aww.”

Her next reading was dedicated to the students in her Sealed With a Kiss class. This reading was particularly unusual because it was not one of Cognard-Black’s original works. “The Letter I’m going to share…motivated me to write my dissertation,” said Cognard Black when she shared a letter that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote to George Elliot.

After she read the letter, Cognard-Black began reading a short story of her own. She prefaced this piece, entitled “A Very Short Story Begins on a Farm,” by letting the audience in on the fact that she wrote the story in a flat in London in three days.

The line in the story, “In some ways all farm stories are alike,” is proven untrue by Cognard-Blacks story, which blends the metaphysical process of writing and a short glimpse into a midwestern woman’s life.

Cognard-Black followed the reading of this story with two more that were collaborations between her, artist -Professor Carrie Patterson and photographer -Professor Colby Caldwell. These stories were short works of fiction created by Cognard-Black with accompanying artwork by Patterson and Caldwell.

First VOICES Reading Conducted by SMC Alumni

Poet Joe Hall, ‘04, read from “Pigafetta is my Wife” his collection of poems incorporating history and autobiography subject matter. (Photo by Ryan Gugerty)
Poet Joe Hall, ‘04, read from “Pigafetta is my Wife” his collection of poems incorporating history and autobiography subject matter. (Photo by Ryan Gugerty)
On Friday, Sept. 10th, St. Mary’s alumni Joe Hall returned as the first VOICES reader of the semester. Hall, who graduated from St. Mary’s in 2004, is a published poet and professor at University of Maryland.

Hall’s book of poems, Pigafetta Is My Wife, is a Poetry International Notable Book of the Year and has appeared on the small press distribution Best-Seller list.
It was from this book that he did most of his readings; however, Hall did grace the audience with a few currently unpublished poems.

The lecture, much like previous ones, began with an introduction by Professor Karen Anderson, the Director of the VOICES series lectures. Anderson described the night as one where the “world feels vague.”

“It is the perfect night for a homecoming like Joe Hall’s… [he was] a very beloved student, editor of Avatar, and Professor,” said Anderson. She then introduced Hall’s former SMP advisor English Professor Jeffery Coleman.

Professor Coleman discussed his time mentoring Hall when he was a student at St. Mary’s.

“Every week [he’d] come in with beautiful, moving, and sometimes disturbing works,” said Coleman. “Obviously we aren’t responsible for Joe’s genius. He was born with that, but I like to think of St. Mary’s as the place that encouraged him.”

Before Hall began his reading, he praised the faculty of St. Mary’s as a definite part of his success.

“They were very instrumental in keep me on the ball there are a talented, passionate group of teachers here,” said Hall.

Hall prefaced his work by explaining how his work stemmed from two primary sources. He was inspired by Magellan’s circular navigation of the world, as well as, love letters he wrote to his partner Cheryl.

One of the things he utilized was a journal by one of the men on Magellan’s voyage, Antonio Pigafella.

The poem’s read from Hall’s book show a contrast yet similarity between Hall’s view on Pigafetta’s journey with Magellan and his being away from Cheryl.

His poems switch point-of-views throughout between Hall and Hall as Pigafetta, yet each retain a unique and cohesive voice.

Hall’s book is a group of cohesive, serialized poems meant to be read in succession. “The first half is focused on letters and history, but the second half focuses on autobiographical things that occurred in D.C.,” said Hall.

He then proceeds to read a poem about his friend’s self-circumcision as performing art. “It’s easy to make jokes about,” said Hall.

He then proceeded to read some new poems about growing up in Frederick County, Maryland. “I grew up in a really rural area and feel kinship with and have insight into a lot of country life,” said Hall.

His next poems were titled, “Trailer Park” and “Gasoline, Chainsaw Jesus.” These poems are gritty and in possession of a dark humor.
The next VOICES reading will take place on Sept. 23 at 8:15 in DPC.