Night of the Living Poets Preview

Tonight in Kemper Auditorium, renowned poets Arda Collins, Cathy Park Hong, Aaron McCollough and James Shea will present their award-winning works at the “Night of the Living Poets” this Friday.

Collins, winner of the Yale Series for Younger Poets, is the author of “It is Daylight,” Park Hong, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, is the author of “Translating Mo’um” and “Dance Dance Revolution,” McCollough, winner of the Sawtooth Poetry Prize, is the author of “No Grave Can Hold My Body Down,” “Double Venus” and “Welkin,” and Shea, winner of the Fence Modern Poets Prize, is the author of “Star in the Eye.”

The event, organized by Lewis Robinson, Writer in Residence and Instructor in English, and five student liaisons will introduce the poets beyond the words of their poems through readings and discussion.

In an e-mail to The Phillipian, Robinson said, “I’m thrilled about the event, because I love hearing this group of poets read their poems aloud, and I look forward to hearing them have a public conversation about an art form that many have only a personal relationship with.”

Robinson met the four poets as a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a two-year writing residency program at the University of Iowa. Although Robinson studied fiction writing, he formed close bonds with the writers who were more involved with poetry.

“[Collins, Park Hong, McCollough and Shea] were in the same cohort at Iowa and have gone on to win big national awards. They all continue to keep poetry at the center of their lives. I thought it would be fun to bring them to campus to have them share their work—to have them read their individual poems, which are moving and mind-blowing—and to share with us how they talk about poetry,” said Robinson.

One unique aspect about the event is that each visiting poet has a student ambassador. Five English students volunteered last term to introduce and host each poet.

Noël Um ’12 is the student ambassador for Collins, Colton Dempsey ’12 and Isabel Knight ’12 are the student ambassadors for Shea, Matt Mattia ’12 is the student ambassador for McCollough, and David Myers ’12 is the student ambassador for Park Hong.

The event will feature readings by the poets, as well as a discussion on the art of writing and understanding poetry.

Afterwards, students will have the opportunity to ask the poets questions and interact with them.

“The students I’ve had here at [Andover] are wonderfully open to poetry—they take risks and write with abandon. I’m looking forward to introducing them to some of the country’s most accomplished young writers,” said Robinson.

In addition to reading and discussing poetry at the “Night of the Living Poets,” Collins, Park Hong, McCollough and Shea will also visit various English classes prior to the event.