One of the great aspects of living near a university is being able to attend all their events. Sports games. Conferences. Plays. Fundraisers. Concerts. Recitals. The options with a venue so vast and diverse are endless, but in this particular post, I will focus on a reading that has stuck with me.
On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, I attended a reading at the University of Cincinnati featuring American poet and translator A. E. Stallings. Stallings has always loved Greek mythology. In fact, she now resides in Athens, Greece with her husband and their two children. Through Latin studies, she translates past work, and even shared a piece of Hesiod with us on Wednesday.
It was magical, hearing a story from the past, but she also tells those of the present. About her experiences. About learning curves like her poem, "Autumn Pruning." About the way words can stir her and confound her, twisting into pieces such as "Scissors" and "Placebo." Stallings told us, in Latin, Placebo means "I shall please you." I shall please you. No wonder words sparked something within her.
But something deeper, more raw, than her linguistic roots struck me. As I stated above, Stallings has always loved Greek mythology. Specifically, she gravitates towards the Underworld. In this single reading, she read two poems - of opposing formats - surrounding Hades and Persephone's tale. Both were fantastic yet identifiable in their own right. What Stallings said before she gave them, however, is what continues to entrap me.
"One of the great things about being an artist is that if you constantly repeat subject matter, it's a theme and not an obsession." Hilarious, yet comforting. Poets and writers see life through another scope, or rather, through the same scope as others but with interchangeable lenses. The way Stallings latched onto words like scissors and placebo.
Stallings is a remarkable wordsmith. She weaves rhyme, repetition, sound, and occasional alliteration through any form she decides to take. Humor often adds another layer of quirk to her work. As a poet or writer, there's much to learn from her. Had I the funds, I would have purchased one (or more) of her books and asked her to sign it (them). If you're a word-lover like me, I am positive she won't only be on my Christmas list.
Have you been to any readings lately, or have any writerly recommendations of your own? How is NaNo going? And lastly, if there are any subjects or topics you would like to see covered, please comment! Don't be shy!