Many opportunities present themselves on Pacific University’s campus for students to experience different styles of writing and view life in a new light through an author’s eyes.
Tess Gallagher, ranked one of America’s finest contemporary poets, visited campus on Nov. 24 and was greeted by an auditorium of students and faculty members eager to hear her poetry. Gallagher discussed topics of her family, friends and places she has lived, as well as her life with her late husband, Raymond Carver.
Participants were intrigued by the way Gallagher crafted her poems by creating a serene atmosphere and presenting her work in an intriguing flare of a seasoned artist.
“I thought the reading from Tess Gallagher was one of the best poetry readings at Pacific,” said English professor Pauline Beard.
English instructor Kyle Lang said, “I was delighted to discover a writer of Tess Gallagher’s talents was visiting our corner of the world. Tess’s reading left me contemplative and exhilarated at the same time. Her poems ranged across landscapes from Ireland to Montenegro. Gallagher’s poems descended below the surface of experiences only to reappear further down the landscape, bringing with it a new surprise and sense of discovery.”
Junior Michael Johnson expressed that the mantra of the guest writer’s series is to bring artists who inspire students and faculty to write, imagine and create. The program tries to bring in authors that feature different voices with different styles through the school year.
“Students need to have art modeled for them. They need to see that art is alive and vibrant with their community,” said Lang. “I find that undergraduates often consider authors to be elusive and invisible characters in their own landscape. By inviting authors and poets into our communities, we show students that it is possible to create art in their own lives.”
Lang also stated that he thinks students don’t read enough poetry. He said that students should submerge themselves in the rhythms and images that poetry creates.
Gallagher has been an influential essayist, novelist and playwright throughout her life. As a young writer, Gallagher’s first collection of poems, “Instructions to the Double,” won the 1976 Elliston Book Award for best book of poetry published by a small press.
Another collection of poems includes “Willingly” (1984), which consists of poems written to and about Gallagher’s husband, author Raymond Carver, who died in 1988. Later collections include “Dear Ghosts” (2006), “My Black Horse: New and Selected Poems” (1995), “Owl-Spirit Dwelling” (1994) and “Moon Crossing Bridge” (1992).
Professor of English Tim Thompson, Lang and Beard all agree that Gallagher’s reading was a great success. Look for more guest authors and poets throughout the year presented by the English department.