An Evening with Poets

It’s events like this that always bring out the elders, the faculty, the staff and other odd members of the community. They almost overpower and overbear the students. Even the new alumni, who drifted away for the summer and found their way back, manage to show. 

Fancy shirts and seemingly intelligent conversation overflows. 

A practically full room. Just a few white spots of chairs open. A recent graduate steps up to speak, to introduce the one I’ve known for almost three years, my advisor, G-Hawk. 

"Nothing is there without intentionality. That is what we all can learn from Gary Hawkins," says the tall, thin former student with a sharp swoop to his hair and a certain fuzz to his orange sweater. 

G-Hawk stands, his smartly dressed frame, a staple of his persona. He speaks low and distinctly as if the delivery is more important than the words. He moves through his collection of poetry with an overtly steady pace.

Night descends outside the glass windows but we all stay transfixed in the hotel lobbies, soccer fields, grand staircases and midwinter sunlight G-Hawk keeps us lost in. 

Hands clap in unison after a tidy set of G-Hawk’s poetry. A man called Olzmann introduces Ross Gay, the poet I know nothing of but I’m still supposed to be impressed by.

"His poems explore the many facets of what it means to be human," says Olzmann of the man. 

Gay is tall with black curly hair and an impressive goatee. His red t-shirt hangs off his large frame. His body moves with the words that escape his lips. Rocking side to side. Hands up. Hands down. 

Chuckles emerge throughout the room as Gay speaks about being almost naked in front of his best friends sister. 

His voice rises and falls. A perfect conductor for the highs and lows within his words. His poems praise the ordinary and mundane such as ‘ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt’. 

Inbetween his poems he interjects, giving background to the words and to spout bits of comic relief. There is undeniable reality in his poems, not so loft and metaphorical that a fiction/non fiction writer like myself zones out. 

There are poems about feet, birds shitting, and ants devouring old fruit. Yet in all of these there is a comedic and harrowing insight about life. Gay digs deep into the secret desires, insecurities and visions we all have running through out minds as we go about our day to day business. 

And to me this is what Gay understands and exposes within his poetry, that there is no ordinary. Within everything we perceive to be ordinary there is almost always a trace of the extraordinary, always shades of love and pain. And these ordinary things we brush off as nothing of any consequence are actually the things that weave together to create the fabric of the human soul, with all its moments of joy, love, pain, hilarity, torture and longing. 

The last poem is about Fig Trees and when it reaches the end, loud clapping goes and goes. An appreciative crowd. 

"Thanks for coming everyone!" Heather from the library quips and just like that the night is done. 

Written By Grace Hatton During the October 15th Poetry Reading on Campus. 

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