Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hollins Reading

Last night I slipped out to Hollins University to hear two men read their work. Apparently it was meat night in the storytelling realm; maybe big guys eating lots of protein? I don't know.

The first reader was Thorpe Moeckel, an assistant English professor at Hollins who apparently lives near Purgatory Mountain, which is in my county.

According to the college faculty listing, this gentleman's "first full-length collection of poems, Odd Botany, won the 2000 Gerald Cable Award and was published in 2002 by Silverfish Review Press. Chapbooks include Meltlines, The Guessing Land, and Making a Map of the River. He earned his M.F.A. in 2002 at the University of Virginia, where he was a Jacob K. Javits and Henry Hoyns Fellow."

He read from his just-published book entitled Venison. I was sorry my husband wasn't there to hear this as he would never have believed someone could write poetry about killing and skinning deer. The poem - it is a single poem -  is 72 pages long and is written in couplets.

The authors did not have books for sale at this event. I would have brought home a signed copy of this for my husband if there had been.

The poem flowed well and read well but I think it was something I would like  see and perhaps read aloud myself in order to get a better feel for the work.

The second reader was Pinckney Benedict. Benedict formerly taught at Hollins but is now elsewhere. (Note: I never took classes from either of these professors as I was there long before they were.) His fourth book, Miracle Boy and Other Stories, also was just published. Apparently this book has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. I should put that in big letters: NOMINATED FOR PULITZER PRIZE.

Benedict read for perhaps 20 minutes. I could not decide if the story was set in older times and was plausible or if it was a bit of realistic science fiction, something along the lines of the twilight zone.

The story, told in first person, was of a young boy who was helping his father exterminate cows that had some kind of epidemic that required them to be killed.

I enjoyed listening to this story and now will spend some time wondering how it ended, for he did not read all the way to the end. What a tease, eh?

When I was an undergraduate at Hollins, I attended readings all the time. When I finished school, I went back frequently at first, but eventually my return to hear these authors dwindled to the point where I can scarcely remember the last one. I have been lucky if I made it once a year but I would like to do better in the upcoming school year.

But I must point out how lucky I and other area writers are to have an institution that brings in writers who are potential Pulitizer Prize winners. I have been to some great talks and readings at Hollins and I urge every writer to take a look at the college's events calendar and take note of what is coming up. These things are open to the public and free. There is a wealth of opportunity there.

While it is much more fun to attend these things when you know someone (I did not know a single person at this event, which really was unusual, I usually see somebody I know), I find them to be a little inspirational (and a little frustrating sometimes, too) but generally good for me. They make me think, they get me out of the house, and they put me out amongst people again. Those are all pluses.

So hooray for Hollins. Hooray for readings. Hooray for summer nights that let me venture out before it is dark!


  1. Summer's one redeeming quality. Longer days. Well, okay.. also the pretty flowers.

    Glad you got out and enjoyed yourself.

  2. That sounds like fun. The colleges here do not promote things like that, as far as I've ever seen. We do get some of the strange new age types reading poetry or some sort. Not the same.


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