Melissa Hanson Asst. News Editor
Tuesday October 9 was a night of poetry. The English Department and the Creative Writing Department held their first reading of the year featuring poets Jeanne Marie Beaumont and Martha Collins in the Suffolk Library Poetry Center from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Suffolk’s Director of Creative Writing, Dr. Fred Marchant, described the night as a “celebration of new books.” The event was actually planned for last year, but was rescheduled for Oct. 9, according to Marchant. After his remarks on the English and Creative Writing Department’s excitement for the night he introduced Beaumont first. Beaumont studied at Columbia and taught at both Rutgers and the Robert Frost House. She has three books of poetry published. Currently Beaumont teaches in Manhattan and Southern Maine. Marchant says Beaumont channels Sylvia Plath.
“It’s a pleasure to be here and to read with Martha Collins,” said Beaumont at the beginning of her reading. She spoke a little about her work and said she would start with some fairy tale poems.
“I like to mash things up a little bit,” said the poet. She described her first poem as an adaptation of Goldie Locks titled “Is Rain My Bare Skin.” This poem contained many examples of onomatopoeia. Her next poem was called “New Wires Tales, Index of First Lines,” which she called an “index kind of poem.” The third poem recited was set in 1963, titled “Dressing Table,” remarking on make-up and vanity items.
“This week is a rather auspicious [one] if you’re thinking of American poetry,” said Beaumont. This week marks the 50th anniversary of Plath’s last poems, and this month marks the anniversary of her death, according to Beaumont. She then read a few of Plath’s poems, including 10 lines of one of her last works. Beaumont said she has been reading Plath’s poems for about 40 years.
“And of course, the influence seeps in,” Beaumont said. She then read another Plath poem. Beaumont remarked on her interest in the supernatural and then told the crowd an anecdote about a possible encounter with the ghost of Plath.
“I should have brought my magic eight ball,” said Beaumont. She claims she was able to communicate with Plath through the object. The Colombia graduate read the crowd a list of questions and answers from her encounter with the supernatural Plath, receiving many laughs over the contents of the conversation.
Beaumont then spoke more about her interest in the afterlife and how that played a part in her Catholic upbringing, reading four letters from limbo, which were influenced from the bible.
She also read a poem from Theodore Roethke and remarked on his death. The end of Beaumont’s reading was marked with applause from every member of the audience.
Marchant then returned to the pedestal to introduce Collins. She is the author of two books, one of which is a book-length poem and the other is based off the lynching her father witnessed as a child. Collins is the founder of the creative writing program at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and currently works for Field Magazine.
“She takes on one of the most profound challenges…the legacy and persistence of race,” said Marchant.
Collins began her reading by talking about her work; explaining her most recent book not only reflects on what affect the lynching would have had on her father as a child and adult, but also what affect it had on her childhood in Iowa.
She began by reading the first poem in her book. As Collins paused in-between readings a theme became apparent within her poetry. Many of the poems contained a missing word. The first poems she read never addressed the words “black” or “blacken,” while poems she recited later in her reading would skip over the words “white” or “whiten.”
Collins said she only remarked on the racism of places she had lived, and said many of her poems were based on New England. The third poem she read took place in the Boston Common, which got a reaction out of the crowd due to the extremely close proximity.
“We call ourselves white, but we’re not white at all,” said Collins in between poems. Her next reading was a list of white-colored objects. She then read a poem that she said was about white privilege.
“Like many of these poems, it’s a collage,” said Collins. She read two poems and then concluded, followed with as much applause as Beaumont received.
Marchant ended the night by thanking the poets and telling the crowd there were copies of their poem books available for sale that could be signed upon request.
About three Suffolk students from the poetry workshop class were present at the event.
“Coming from a young writers point of view it was interesting to hear the prior generations writing,” said junior Corey Howard. “Each writer had their own style.”
“I thought it was fantastic…both of the poets were fantastic,” said junior Alex Eustice, “I was surprised both of their presentations of the poetry were very clear and enthusiastic.”