Poet's Poetry Corner

Patrice Gomez

The sound of carefully crafted words pierced the Poet’s Corner as the first of Whittier College’s poetry readings commenced. On Oct. 10, the English Department, led by Professor of English Tony Barnstone, had its first guest poetry reading in side the Wardman Library. Students gathered around with free lunches in hand to hear the works of poet Bill Yarrow.

 Yarrow is currently an English professor at Joliet Junior College where he teaches classes about Shakespeare, Creative Writing, and film. The English Department had planned to have another guest poet, Helene Cardoa, read some of her works. However, due to outside circumstances, she was unable to attend. The reading still continued as Yarrow and poet Angelina Narciso shared their work with the students.

Professor Barnstone introducedNarciso while students welcomed her special appearance. Narciso read some selections from her new book, Blood Orange Poems, whose pieces were based on moments from her childhood, parents, and her children. She even included a few short poems such as “Self Portrait as Water” and “Between,” where students would try to figure out what the blanks were in the poem. “I was pleasantly surprised of the event,” said Narciso. “It is rewarding that people came to hear poetry and I enjoyed of how people were so engaged in hearing these poems.”

Bill Yarrow closed the event by reading a selection of poems from his new book, The Vig of Love, and his other book, Blasphemer.  Yarrow’s poems were both comedic and soul touching. There were waves of laughter and gasps as students reacted to the poems “No Crying in Poetry” and “A Debt No Honest Man Could Pay.” Yarrow even made a guest appearance and worked with some of Professor Barnstone’s Writing Poetry and Senior Seminar classes. “I feel like it was wonderfully attended and loved the space of the event,” said Yarrow. “It was fantastic to see so many students come to this event.”

This event is the first of many poetry readings that will give students an opportunity to meet the writers and ask them questions about their work. “I see the visiting writers series as an essential way for creative writing and literature students to connect to the living world of literary practice,” said Professor Barnstone. “It is one thing to read a book with an author’s name on the spine. It’s another thing to meet that author, listen to that author read his or her work, and have a chance to ask essential questions of a professional in the field.” Overall, this was the goal of the event: for students to interact and learn what it takes to enhance their writing skills to be published. After the event, some of the students were able to talk to the poets and even brought copies of their books. “It’s always a great experience when they bring poets and other artists on campus,” said third year Trent Beauchamp Sanchez.

The poetry series will last throughout the school year, and the next reading will begin towards the end of November. For those interested in furthering their own professional careers in literature, these events are of significant importance.