Award Winning Poet Marilyn Nelson Scheduled to Perform at GSU

Alia Lewis

Tonight, Georgia Southern University students will have the honor of hearing a poetry reading from award-winning poet, Marilyn Nelson.

Nelson, who is a recipient of the 2012 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, a finalist for the National Book Award, and author of many well known works of art will hold a reading of her poetry at 7:00 p.m. in room 1004 of the IT Building.

Nelson was originally supposed to perform in February, but because of inclement weather the event was rescheduled.

“On the night the reading was supposed to take place, school was also cancelled,” Richard Flynn, professor of literature, said

Flynn and other coordinators spoke with a speaking agency in order to reschedule the event for this Wednesday, so that students could enjoy her performance.

“[Nelson] 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” Flynn said.

Nelson’s most recent collection entitled “How I Discovered Poetry” debuted in January and is aimed at a young adult audience.

“Marilyn Nelson is very accessible and she writes for both young adult audiences and other 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.

Nelson began to develop her poetry skills as a child in elementary school. Although her family moved around frequently because her father was a Tuskegee Airman, her poetry skills developed and helped her compose the award winning pieces of art her poetry is today.

Most of Nelson’s work on focuses on the history of her family, America, the African American community, and individuals that are important to her.

Her most famous works include “Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems,” “The Home Place,” “The fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems,” “Carver: A Life in Poems,” “Fortune’s Bones,” “A Wreath for Emmett Till,” and her newest book “How I Discovered Poetry.”

Along with her many awards, Nelson 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. She has also been the author or translator of over 24 works.

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.