Albion College Reading Series Hosts Alum Stevie Edwards, ‘I’m Interested in Stories That Are Told About Women’

Stevie Edwards ‘09 reads from their book “Quiet Armor” in the Bobbitt Auditorium on Thursday. Edward’s third poetry collection “Quiet Armor” was published in October 2023 (Photo by Bonnie Lord).

Content warning: This article contains profanity.

On Thursday, Stevie Edwards ‘09 read from their poetry book “Quiet Armor” in Bobbitt Auditorium. The poetry reading was hosted by the English department as part of the 2024 Albion College Reading Series

In an interview before the reading, Edwards reflected on how it felt to be back on campus. 

“It almost feels surreal; it’s definitely a little nostalgic to be back here,” Edwards said. “I had a really great time in undergrad, I really loved it.”

Edwards double majored in English with a creative writing emphasis and economics and management. Edwards added that they came into Albion already obsessed with poetry, due in part to an eighth-grade teacher who got them into it. Their interest in poetry was further nurtured by the Albion College English department. 

“I really enjoyed the English classes that I took, and I kind of idolized some of my professors,” Edwards said. 

Edwards named Helena Mesa and Mary Collar who passed away in 2021 as two of their favorite English professors who inspired and encouraged them in their pursuit of poetry. 

In addition to their work as a poet, Edwards has many years of experience in editing and publishing. They worked at the publishing company YesYes Books for nine years, and have had jobs editing history books and literary journals. 

Edwards said that another pivotal moment for them was working on the Albion Review, Albion College’s literary journal.

“Getting involved with the Albion Review set me up to start the first literary magazine I started when I was in my early twenties called ‘Muzzle Magazine,’” Edwards said. 

Edwards said editing has been an important part of their creative process, and their work in publishing introduced them to a lot of writing they wouldn’t have read otherwise. They said they’re appreciative of the Albion Review and its effect on their career path, as well as the professors who run it. 

“Danit and Helena are amazing, and they were such good teachers to me,” Edwards said. “I’m very grateful to them.”

In their own writing, Edwards said they tend to have a feminist perspective. Edwards’ third poetry collection, “Quiet Armor,” delves into themes of bodies, gender identity, politics and “rape culture.” Poems in the collection include “Ladylike,” “Verity” and “Medusa with the Head of Harvey Weinstein.”

“I’m interested in the stories that are told about women,” Edwards said. “I wanted to interrogate a lot of those stories.”

Edwards said “Quiet Armor” references stories and literature that have shaped Western society, as well as stories they were told about women while growing up. This culminated in references to female figures such as Medusa, Persephone, Saint Agatha, Saint Catherine and Lavinia from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”

Copies of “Quiet Armor” displayed in Bobbitt on Thursday. After the reading, these were available to be purchased and signed by Edwards (Photo by Bonnie Lord).

When picking which poems to recite at the reading, Edwards said they kept their audience in mind. 

“A lot of them deal with coming of age, which I feel like is an interesting topic for college students,” Edwards said.

Edwards said they also chose more narrative poems, and that they thought would be easier to follow as a listening audience.

When Edwards took the stage, they said they loved the English professors they got to work with at Albion and dedicated the reading to the late Mary Collar.

“Dr. Collar was someone who really pushed me intellectually and was there for me in a lot of ways, and I’m sorry she can’t be here,” Edwards said. 

Edwards started the reading with the first poem in “Quiet Armor,” sharing 15 poems in total. 

“The first poem of this book is called “Parthenogenesis,” which is a nerdy biological term that refers to the ways certain organisms can procreate without a mate,” Edwards said at the reading.

Another poem Edwards read was “Drunk Bitch Wants to F— Like a Man,” from a series of poems in “Quiet Armor” that they call their “Drunk Bitch poems.”

“I made up this character named ‘Drunk Bitch’ so I could write some poems about similar bad behavior to what I experienced in my 20s,” Edwards said. “I created the character to make some distance.”

They also read “Five Days Before the Election,” the title poem of “Quiet Armor,” which references comments made by Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Edwards ended with “Tapping Therapy,” about their experience with hip bursitis and the final poem of the book. 

In a Q&A after the reading, Edwards answered a few questions about their writing process.

“I sit staring at a computer screen for a very long time, and hope words come to me,” Edwards said. “I write a lot of very messy drafts that I spend sometimes years editing and trying to craft into something more beautiful.”

Edwards said they often challenge themselves to write one poem a day for a month. Many writers do this in April – National Poetry Month – but Edwards said they decided to wait until June this year when they won’t be teaching.

“I would say about a quarter of this book comes from doing that, writing a poem every day,” Edwards said. “Most of them are garbage, but then some of them will be worth revising.”

In the same interview before the reading, Edwards talked about the next writing project they’re working on. 

“It’s a poetry collection that explores trying to figure out having a happy and balanced life with mental illness, and also the decision whether or not to have children, kind of considering the environmental crisis we’re facing, and whether or not it’s a good idea to bring more babies into that,” Edwards said. 

Edwards said they’re planning to call the book “The Weather Inside,” but it hasn’t been accepted by a publisher yet.A further selection of Edwards’ work can be found on their website or in their other books.

Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal has a major in the English department.

About Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal 7 Articles
Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They are an English major who's interested in all types of writing, and are exploring their options through being an editor of the Albion Review and a volunteer writer on the Pleiad. Contact Jocelyn via email at JAK17@albion.edu.

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