Acclaimed poet Marilyn Nelson to share her story

Photo: Poetry Foundation

Erinn Williams

Georgia Southern University students will have the honor of hearing a poetry reading from one of America’s best-known contemporary poets.

Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson will hold a reading of her poetry on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in room 1004 of the IT Building.

She has not only been the recipient of the 2012 Frost Medal, the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award which honors “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry,” she has also been a finalist for the National Book Award.

“She is a very well known poet so we thought that students would be able to hear her and enjoy her. Her poetry is astonishing and is a great interest to everyone ” Richard Flynn, professor of literature, said.

Nelson also held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006 and is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut.

“I think it’s really cool that GSU is having Marilyn Nelson come visit. She is very talented and I think she’ll help give students a new perspective on different topics. It’s also great that we are having a Black poet come during Black History month” Kristina Agbebiyi, pre-med/ biology major, said.

In her career she has been the author or translator of over 24 works.

Her poetry collections include “The Home Place”, “The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems,” “Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems” and many more.

Marilyn Nelson has written books for young audiences including “Carver: A Life in Poems,” “Fortune’s Bones” and “A Wreath for Emmett Till.”

She has a new collection that debuted in January called “How I Discovered Poetry” which is aimed at young adult audiences.

“Marilyn Nelson is very accessible and she writes for both young adult audiences and older groups. I am teaching one of her books in my “Literature for Adolescents” class. I think there is a real audience for poetry at Georgia Southern” Flynn said.

A child of a Tuskegee Airman and a teacher who spent most of her time moving from military base to military base, Nelson developed her poetry skills in elementary school.

Her work focuses on her own family history, American history, the African American community and individuals that are important to her.

Her reading is being brought to students by the Campus Life Enrichment Committee, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Department of Literature and Philosophy, the Department of Writing and Linguistics, the Department of History, the Department of Communications Arts, the Center for Africana Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Program.

“I hope that students will take away the notion that they can like poetry and that it doesn’t have to be abstract. Her poems are narratives so that should really draw people in” Flynn said.

Five of her books will be on sale during the performance and she will be willing to sign them for students.

Admission to the event is free.