Every semester the Albion College English Department holds the AC Reading Series. The English Department provides these readings to let visiting professors share their work, and give the students and community of Albion a chance to hear new voices. The next Reading Series will start this Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 5:30 p.m. in Stockwell Library’s Wendell Will Room.
Three new adjunct English professors currently all happen to have a passion for poetry. With poems to share, H.R. Webster, Leia Penina Wilson, and Ryler Dustin will all be reading at the event.
Pulled toward poetry
Not every person gravitates toward the poetry section of a bookstore, but there are those whose souls feed off poetry. Each poet finds a satisfying way to ease their craving. Webster, Wilson and Dustin all found a love for poetry in different ways.
Webster has been writing poetry since she was a young child and still keeps up with her passion today. She hasn’t published any poems yet, but it may be a future goal.
“I like that poetry is sort of interested in failure,” said Webster, “A poem that tries to say something and doesn’t quite say what it is trying to say is still a poem, but a story that tries to be a story and doesn’t quite say what it is trying to say isn’t a story.”
Wilson did not always plan on being a poet. In fact, she never thought about publishing or teaching but with each new poem she created the path of becoming a poet and professor fell into place. Wilson will be teaching the advanced poetry workshop for Albion College students in the spring. Why pick up poetry in the first place? “Why not?” Wilson said.
Dustin found poetry during an open mic in his hometown. Hearing people with all different backgrounds and experiences speak in ways that were not the traditional sense of poetry opened up new possibilities for Dustin.
“It kind of blew the doors off of what my definition of poetry was,” said Dustin, “That’s what made me realize I needed poetry in my life, that it felt very human, it didn’t feel theoretical but more like a code to crack.”
Where to find poetry
Poets are not old dead white men! Our three adjunct professors were clear on stating this fact. A poet cannot be limited to one type of personality or one type of hobbyist. Each person has their own preferences and so there are various types of poetry written to satisfy every individual.
“There is so much poetry in the world,” said Wilson.
Webster seems to agree. “There is public poetry and then there is the poetry that we are making all the time. I think that almost everybody has a secret poem that they have written,” said Webster.
Each poet has advice for undergraduates and beginner poets. The two recommendations that Webster, Wilson and Dustin all have in common were the suggestions to read and observe. Read a lot, read diversely. Observe everything, observe the little details of life.
“I think the best advice anyone ever gave me as a writer was that if you aren’t reading poetry, then you’re never going to write poetry,” said Webster. “The poets I love are the poets that make me want to write.”
While each poet has several favorite poets that they often revisit, they each make a point to read new stories and new perspectives. Reading is not the only step to creating good poetry, though.
“What I think makes people really poets is that they are careful watchers and observers of the world,” said Webster.
Each poet had their own way to observe the world through hobbies such as cooking, hiking, running, participating in games or enjoying a new album.
“So much of poetry has to be about not finding time to put a pen to a page but to spend moments just thinking more,” said Dustin. “Make the habit of really noticing things,” he suggests.
Each of the poets described their individual processes to writing poetry, from the paper used to the way they find inspiration, and each came to the conclusion that writing is not the easiest job. It may even seem unproductive.
Dustin said,, “Writing is such a strange job, if you want to call it that, because most of your productivity comes from a time when you’re not productive, in a sense.”
Each of the poets spoke about finding passion and that once someone finds what they love, they ought to pursue it. Although while in the pursuit of a passion, sometimes students need to be reminded to slow down, according to each of the professors.
“It is like a chinese finger trap,” said Dustin, “if you pull really hard you can’t get your finger out. You have to be gentle.”
Webster said if an idea keeps coming back, and is important enough to stick in the brain, then it doesn’t need to be written down right away. Passion or poetry can go hand in hand.
The poets reading this Wednesday aren’t just sharing their passion, they are hopefully inspiring someone else to write their own poem.
“If you believe that it is worth writing, then maybe you believe it is worth sharing,” said Webster.
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