Poetry Series Presents Acclaimed Writers

Students, friends, family, and faculty attended the Florida A&M University Younger Poets Series 2014 to hear the literary works of alumnus L. Lamar Wilson and renowned writer Ansel Elkins. The event was hosted at Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC).

The FAMU Younger Poets Series was developed by the Department of English and Modern Languages under the College of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities in order to bring poets to campus to cultivate students and the Tallahassee community in poetry.

Professor Snodgrass, an assistant professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages, said, “There are a lot of national level poets. We wanted to offer an opportunity to have them come onto campus and invite the community to hear their works.”

“This was our inaugural event and it’s great to have them comeback during homecoming and show us where they have been, showcase what they have been doing and allow us to be proud of what they’ve accomplished,” said Snodgrass

This year’s series was special since Wilson and Elkins have ties to the university. Wilson, received his bachelor’s degree from SJGC. Elkins’ found herself steadily on campus as her mother was a professor at FAMU.

The series opened with performances by Voices FAMU Poetry Group. Wilson read from his first collection “Sacrilegion,” which was selected by Lee Ann Brown as the 2012 Winner of the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series.

His readings included: “I Can’t Help It,” “Times Like These,” “Family Reunion, 1993,” “It Could Happen,” “What Did,” “Resurrection Sunday,” “Lost and Found,” “We Do Not,” “I am Black and Comely,” “Touch,” “Dear Uncle Sam,” “Legion,” and “Giving Up The Ghost.”

“I try not to explain my work. I hope that the poems explain themselves. I think that what poetry does is it allows the imagination to flourish,” Wilson said. “I hope it insights empathy for people who are different.”

Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Famuan and a pioneer of the NABJ Multimedia Short Course, Wilson credits FAMU for creating him and opening up unimaginable opportunities. Wilson hopes he has left a legacy for SJGC students to continue the legacy and expansion of SJGC.

“Tallahassee transformed my life, FAMU opened my world up in ways I could not have imagined. I was able to dream and it’s because of the faith people put in me,” said the Marianna, Fla., native.

Elkins debuted her collection of poetry, “Blue Yodel,” which will be published in 2015. It was selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Elkins readings included: “Goat Man,” “Mississippi has to roll, 1995, a poem dedicated to Emmett Till,” “On Leaving the boy in the Battlefield,” “The Girl with Antlers,”  “Adventures of the Double-headed Girl,” “Autobiography of Eve,” “Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory,” “Hunter’s Moon,” “Ghost at My Door,” and “Hour of the Wolf.”

“It’s an honor to come back to read,” said Elkins. “I wanted to present a range of my work, the difficult and spirited poems. As long as you’re discovering something in your work that’s the most essential.”

The duo received a standing ovation and left attendees in awe, dissecting their poems and eager to probe the writers after with questions and adoration.   

Kathleen Erndl, an associate professor of religion at Florida State University and a poetry enthusiast, came to hear Elkins debut some of her works.