Oregon poet “talks nerdy” during reading

Award-winning poet Matthew Dickman tells the audience his memories of how he fell in love with the genre Sept. 19 in the Austin Reading Room at the Nicholson Library. Joel Ray/ Photo editor

Oregon native and award-winning poet Matthew Dickman held a poetry reading Sept. 19 in the Austin Reading Room in Nicholson Library.

The reading, which was free and open to the public, attracted a broad audience from students to staff. Dickman read some selected poems from his first poetry book “All-American Poem,” and his new books that will come out in Fall 2012.

Before the reading, Professor Lex Runciman from the English department started the introduction of the poet with “All-American Poem.” He discussed the uncommon wideness of the book size and its font, which, according to Runciman, symbolized a bigger vision. He finished the introduction by praising Dickman’s observation and told the audience to “start a poem with any
observation.”

Dickman, who went to the podium right after the introduction in grey sweatshirt, surprised the listeners with his opening sentence—“How so f***ing sweet!” His casual attire and humor indicated the atmosphere of that night. He read the poems one by one, sometimes commenting on what inspired the poem or who they were dedicated to. The wittiness coming from the poem or the poet himself kept the audience bursting out in laughter. For the second to last poem, he let the audience choose between a poem about Bridge or about his imagination of his absent father being in Russia. The latter was unanimously chosen. He ended the reading with a poem about what heaven might be like.

During the Q-and-A session, Dickman inspired the audience with his unique insights. He said that poetry is not like any non-fiction genre “as metaphors and similes do not exist in the physical world.” He expressed his love for poems by saying that he “would have to fall in love with other outlets” to not write poems anymore, as it was his “way to understand the world.” He gave his opinions on poetry education in high school through his memories of how he first fell in love with the genre. He said that he “would like the high schools to teach more modern poets such as Marie Howe, Frank O’Hara and Bob Kaufman, so students can be engaged more easily and prepare for the classics.” He had no particular interest in poems until he started reading modern poems—his high school dream girl’s favorite kind.

The reading was sponsored by the English department and the library. The next reading will be held by Thor Hansen, an author and biologist Oct. 10 in the Austin Reading Room.

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Cassie Wong/Staff writer

Cassie Wong can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

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