Poetry festival offers creative experiences
Courtney Hilden spends about four hours of her week with the likes of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Ann Plato and Frances Harper — a lost generation of female poets of whom most in the world of academia have never heard.
Hilden, however, thinks these women still have a story to tell and a part to play.
The English senior will give a presentation on her senior thesis this month — a study of 19th century politically active women poets — as a part of the Center for Poetry’s Spring Poetry Festival.
MSU’s Spring Poetry Festival
April 13, 7 p.m., RCAH Theater, Christine Rhein poetry reading
April 14, 7 p.m., C204 Snyder Hall, 19th century women crusaders and poets
April 20, 7 p.m., RCAH Theater, Ruelaine Stokes poetry reading
April 14, 7:30 p.m., Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., The Poetry of Jazz
April 16, 3 p.m., 213 Morrill Hall, Catherine Bowman poetry reading
April 23, 4:30 p.m., Main Library, Diane Wakoski and Jerome Rothenberg poetry reading
Source: Center for Poetry
“These women were not only working as activists, but writing poetry that was racist or sexist that wasn’t necessarily in line with their supposed political views,” Hilden said. “It’s still necessary to acknowledge them as revolutionary. It wasn’t okay at that time in history for women to even be writing.”
The festival has been held in celebration of National Poetry Month since the establishment of the Center for Poetry three years ago, director Anita Skeen said.
Skeen said the celebration will involve numerous poetry readings, a poem-chalking event, roundtable discussions about poetry, a celebration of National Poem in your Pocket Day and Hilden’s research presentation.
“I would love it if we had people from all over campus that would come (to the festival),” Skeen said. “An engineer will bring a different perspective from someone in communications. When you get different people participating in conversation, people’s notions are forced to change.”
MSU English Language Center’s Ruelaine Stokes will engage with students through a poetry reading later this month. Stokes said it is important to experience poetry outside of print.
“Sometimes, we think literature is something that only lives in books, but it’s a fantastic experience to meet authors and poets,” she said. “Often in school, we think of poems as difficult and dense, and we start seeing it as difficult. We forget that poetry is about recreating human experience.”
Students attended a poetry reading Tuesday evening by Steve Healey, a visiting assistant professor in the English department.
Creative writing sophomore Bess Owen said she came to the event because Healey teaches her creative nonfiction class and she wanted to experience his writing.
“I love being around (poetry) and hearing it,” Owen said. “It’s a unique way of writing and a way of putting your thoughts into words that aren’t so telling.”