This week was a wonderful one for literary events at MU! Millersville English faculty and students were involved with 3 readings on campus, and one event at The Ware Center. The readings on The National Day of Writing will be covered in the article on Friday’s events.
On Tuesday, poetry pair William Greenaway and Mindi Kirchner-Greenaway graced McNairy Library’s Reading Room with their thoughtful reflections. Professor Mindi Kirchner, who teaches English 110 at Millersville University, began the readings with poems from her upcoming volume. Professor Greenaway, Distinguished Professor of English (retired from Youngstown State University), enlivened the event with his Southern accent and poems from his latest publications. Both provided great context for the genesis of their ideas and cultural touchstones in their works.
William Greenaway finished the event with reading his moving poem, “Pit Pony,” about the experience of the ponies who lived their entire lives in the mines and finally were freed to live above ground:
There are only a few left, he says,
kept by old Welsh miners, souvenirs, like
gallstones or gold teeth, torn
from this “pit,” so cold and wet
my breath comes out a soul up
into my helmet’s lantern beam,
anthracite walls running,
gleaming, and the floors iron-rutted
with tram tracks, the almost pure
rust that grows and waves like
orange moss in the gutters of water
that used to rise and drown.
He makes us turn all lights off, almost
a mile down. While children scream
I try to see anything, my hand touching
my nose, my wife beside me—darkness palpable,
velvet sack over our heads, even the glow
of watches left behind. This is where
they were born, into this nothing, felt
first with their cold noses for the shaggy
side and warm bag of black
milk, pulled their trams for twenty
years through pitch, past birds
that didn’t sing, through doors
opened by five-year-olds who sat
in the cheap, complete blackness listening
for steps, a knock. And they
died down here, generation after
generation. The last one, when it
dies in the hills, not quite blind, the mines
closed forever, will it die strangely? Will it
wonder dimly why it was exiled from the rest
of its race, from the dark flanks of the soft
mother, what these timbers are that hold up
nothing but blue? If this is the beginning
of death, this wind, these stars?
On Thursday, poet Rozana Cazan, Assistant Professor of English at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania, read poetry at the (im)Migration International Policy Conference session on “Immigration Poetry as Self-Exploration.” The poems came from her second full-length poetry book, The Accident of Birth, is forthcoming with main Street Rag in January 2018. Cazan comes from Romania, and many of her poems reflected her experience as an immigrant in a land where immigrants are increasingly demonized. She visited with Dr. Kasia Jakubiak’s Creative Writing class after the event finished.
On Saturday, spoken word poet Evita Colon came to the Ware Center with her troupe of poets and dancers for a Speak to My Soul performance. Dr. Caleb Corkery introduced the session with a discussion on advocacy aspects of the hip hop movement. The “Purple Cries for Blue Skies” performance focused on issues of domestic violence and the power that victims need to find to leave toxic situations.