Monday, August 10, 2009

What is Scott Ward reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Scott Ward, poet and Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Eckerd College.

His entry begins:
Sometimes I think that Contemporary American Poetry is American culture’s best kept secret. There are so many talented poets writing today, producing work for readers of every taste and temperament. And yet, for some reason, poets and readers have a hard time finding each other. Perhaps one day some clever, technologically adept person will contrive some sort of personal ads to put Twitter poets and readers into each other’s company: “Seeking neo-romantic poet with startling vocabulary and sensuous imagery.” In the meantime, I will take this opportunity to pander by sharing four books from my recent reading, each of which should make someone out there a faithful, worthwhile companion.

A Murmuration of Starlings by Jake Adam York is an exquisite book of poems. It takes for its subject the Civil Rights struggle of the mid twentieth century. Two key events recounted are the murder of Emmitt Till and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. “Substantiation,” the poem about the Till murder, is a series of lyric poems, which are shorter pieces, subjective, and elegiac in tone. But arranged together the poems tell the story of the trial of the killers, Bryant and Milam, and its aftermath. This structure allows York to take advantage of narrative elements such as conflict, character, climax, while the short sections create moments of lyric intensity:

They say they took him for a ride to rough him up,

scare him on a river bluff, then let him go.

They say they let him off near Glendora,

never seen again. They say Ain’t it like a negro

to swim the river with a gin fan round his neck.

This book creates...[read on]
Scott Ward has published poems in Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Washington Square, Blue Mesa Review, Christian Century, and in anthologies such as Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry and American Poetry: The Next Generation. His published collections include Crucial Beauty and Wayward Passages.

Learn more about Scott Ward and his poetry--and read several of his poems--at his faculty website.

Writers Read: Scott Ward.

--Marshal Zeringue