By MATT CRANE
Mississippi State University will highlight the creative art of poetry Wednesday as the English department welcomes Sandra Beasley, a critically praised and nationally recognized poet, at 4:30 p.m. in the Fowlkes Auditorium in the Colvard Student Union.
Beasley will perform selections from her recent collection “I Was the Jukebox,” as well as new work including dramatic monologues during the reading.
Catherine Pierce, associate professor and co-director of MSU’s creative writing program, said she has been familiar with Beasley for some time, seeing her works published in magazines throughout the years and enjoying “Jukebox” herself.
“Her poems are very accessible and surprisingly funny,” she said. “She’s writing some really smart and moving works that I think people will enjoy when they read them.”
“I Was the Jukebox” was awarded the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize and her work has been featured in the Washington Post Magazine, Oxford American and the Wall Street Journal.
Pierce, an author of two poetry books herself, said leading a poetry reading requires a different kind of engagement the poet must use with the reader.
“There’s definitely an element of performing that goes with it,” she said. “You have to find the balance between reading your work and connecting with your audience. It’s a balancing act.”
Pierce said event visitors have the chance of exposure to the literary art form and its many diverse aspects.
“I think that people that might not be avid readers of poetry who come to these readings find the form very accessible,” she said. “Poetry lends itself to a lot of different subjects and tones, and you can exposed to a lot of different worlds in one place and time. Poetry makes the imagination work in really exciting and startling ways.”
Pierce said while some may view poetry as an art that existed hundreds of years ago, it is essential that people are exposed to the vibrant and lively art form that is still practiced today by modern writers with exciting results.
“Anytime we can get students and the community engaged with the arts it’s a good thing because we stay engaged and connected to our emotions,” she said. “Poetry is still being written and there are a lot of dynamic poets still writing. We’re excited to have someone like Sandra coming to us.”