Fleming hosts poets
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 21:10
UVM’s Fleming Museum hosted its first reading of this semester’s Painted Word poetry series on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The poets highlighted were Cathy Park Hong and Neil Shepard. Hong has three published books of poetry: “Translating Mo’um,” “Dance Dance Revolution” and “Engine Empire.” Hong’s work in “Dance Dance Revolution” won her the Barnard Women Poets Prize.
Neil Shepard, alumnus of the University of Vermont, has published four books of poetry: “Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat,” “I’m Here Because I Lost My Way,” “This Far from the Source” and “(T)ravel Un(T)ravel.” Shepard is currently working on a fifth book, “Vermont Exit Ramps.”
Hong began with selected poems from her most recently published work “Engine Empire.” The book is divided between three settings: the American West during the Civil War, a contemporary Chinese mega-city and the near future.
Hong explained how she likes to play with invented settings, and how this particular book captures her personal vision of what the information age will become.
Later, Hong shared two lipograms – poems that use only one-syllable words – from “Dance Dance Revolution.” Hong’s terse pronunciation made for a unique performance.
Hong explained how she finds much of her inspiration through reading and watching films. She is fascinated by the present and the future and said she likes to write about what’s happening now. Since Hong teaches as an assistant professor at Sarah Lawrence College throughout the year, she collects ideas and stores them until the summer when she has time to write.
Shepard gains much of his inspiration from traveling. Growing up, Shepard led a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, always hitchhiking to different places. However, Shepard said that it wasn’t until his junior year of college that he actually traveled outside of the country.
His semester abroad at Oxford truly opened his eyes to the world. After college, he took a year off to travel and later lived for a year in Paris. Shepard credits his wife, who is a linguistic anthropologist, with having initiated many of their trips.
Shepard shared selected poems from “This Far from the Source,” which is a book of travel poems. The book he is currently working on, “Vermont Exit Ramps,” will be deeply rooted in Vermont and thus will resonate much closer to home.
The next poetry reading will take place Oct. 31 and feature work by Brenda Shaughnessy and Jon Woodward. For more information, stop by the Fleming Museum or visit the Painted Word poetry series page on the Fleming Museum’s website.