West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Department of English will host poet Maggie Anderson for a reading and conversation on Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. in the Greek Alumni Room in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts. Anderson will read from her new collection of poems, Dear All, released this year by Four Way Books, and copies of the book will be available for sale. The event is free and open to the public.
“My friends, I send you this letter from the landscape of our years together,” writes Anderson in the title poem from the collection. “You must not wonder if I think of you still— / I have remained steadfast here / I have remembered you wholly into this day.”
The collection is a poetic letter to the loss of her own life and generation and to the lives of the larger world in these days of endless war. Wry, canny, and sometimes surreal, this is the singular and mature work of a poet who, from her earliest poems, has been engaged in the vital work of memory and retrieval. As she writes in “Fear of Farms,” “Who else would plough this land? / Who, if not I, will do all this?” This is a book of moral urgency that eradicates the differences between private and public lives as it uncovers memory’s distortions and inaccuracies. Intellectually alert and emotionally honest, Anderson negotiates the perceptions and self-deceptions we live with and, through both humor and surprise, finds a way to bear them.
“I love how this book moves from the personal to the public,” writes poet Maurice Manning, “from the private room of the heart where losses are conferred, to the world’s stage of mindless, unaccountable war…The vulnerability in these poems is real, but so is the hope.”
Anderson is the author of four previous books of poems, including A Space Filled with Moving and Cold Comfort, and five edited or co-edited volumes of poetry. She was the founding director of the Wick Poetry Center and founder and editor of the Wick Poetry Series of the Kent State University Press. Anderson was also the Director of the Northeast Ohio MFA in creative writing from 2006-2009 and is the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as grants from the Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts. She is Professor Emerita in English of Kent State University and currently lives in Asheville, NC.
As a longtime friend of the late Irene McKinney, West Virginia’s former poet laureate and the founding director of Wesleyan’s MFA Program, and as a poet who has lived in West Virginia, and for a while in Buckhannon, Wesleyan is eager to welcome Anderson back to campus to hear her poems in which we can recognize ourselves and our landscape: “the stiff-necked sumac,” “the limestone outcroppings,” “the valley’s work, the white, the shining.”
West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Department of English seeks to provide outstanding instruction in the study of literature and in the writing of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Graduates achieve an understanding of a variety of classic and contemporary texts and are able to communicate with clarity, write with authority, and analyze and evaluate ideas critically. The department features a distinguished and award-winning teaching faculty of scholars and creative writers. Central to the English curriculum is an atmosphere of open inquiry, where students and faculty can work together toward an appreciation of literature and writing.