As Billy Collins says in the video below at a reading at Poetry@Tech, “It used to be kind of oxymoronic the idea of poetry at Tech. It’s great to be a part of the infiltration of poetry in the precincts of civil engineering.” And with the creation of endowed chairs such as the Bourne and McEver, poetry doesn’t just survive, it thrives. In fact, coupled with the evolution of the Decatur Book Festival over the past several years, Atlanta’s literary climate has made major strides over the past decade.
In fact, it’s the 10th year of the Poetry@Tech program. Whether I was living in Atlanta or, for most of that time, in Chattanooga, I’ve tried to come down and participate at least once a year to the 4-6 community readings they offer. I realized it had been a while when I decided this past week to come see three poets who I didn’t know much about.
I knew a little about Bruce McEver. Successful in both business and poetry–oh, and he recently got a doctorate in Divinity at Harvard! It’s also his endowment that has created the many opportunities it has. He’s an unusual person, in tune with “both sides of the brain,” as Tom Lux said in his introduction Thursday night (although McEver says in the video below that he doesn’t actually “see a dichotomy between being a businessperson and a poet”). C&R Press is proud to be producing his second full-length collection, slated for 2013, Scaring Up the Morning. He began the reading with his spiritual-infused, narrative based travels, exploration and poems dealing with the grief of having lost his wife. This performance was followed by Chris Forhan’s precise, lyrical, and haunting childhood struggles. As a perfect, and unexpected cap to the reading, Theresa Davis, an outstanding spoken word poet, delivered several passionate, theatrical performances. An entertaining reading filled with small wonders and delights in a great Atlanta setting: Kress Auditorium at The Robert C. Williams Paper Museum (Institute of Paper Science & Technology).
The reading was followed by a get-together at Tom Lux’s. As fate would have it, February 9th also happened to be the night of a full moon. I was well-accompanied by intrepid Poetry@Tech associate and long-time friend, Travis Wayne Denton and his wife and fellow poet, Katie Chaple. And as I sat on the top floor of Tom Lux’s midtown residence, sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon and conversing with the stars beneath the stars and the full moon, I felt once again like I was in exactly the right place.
Here’s a video with Bruce McEver and Tom Lux discussing the poetry of work, and the work of poetry.
Billy Collins letting them have it.