Story & Photos by Emily Siddiqui
Dozens of Rose State students, faculty and guests gathered to enjoy a special night of verse and conversation at the 30th annual Poetry at Rose, held at 7 p.m. Friday, March 30 at the H.B. Atkinson Theatre.
The school’s 38th annual poetry, art and photography publication, “Pegasus,” was also officially unveiled during the event. The 115-page book, designed by Mass Communication students in the Layout and Graphic Design course, boasted a matte black finish with rose gold lettering on the cover. This year’s edition was dedicated to Claudia Buckmaster, Dean of the Humanities Division.
Attendees were treated to hors d’oeuvres preceding the reading, which began with introductory speaker and Professor of English and Humanities Trixie Walther, herself also a poet. Three poets whose work is featured in the 2018 “Pegasus,” Cathy Miller, Michael Lane and Kathy Merkx, then took turns reciting a few of their favorite pieces. Next, excerpts of original works were delivered by Kristin Hahn, Lacey Veazey-Daniel, R.J. Woods, Trixie Walther and Carl Sennhenn.
Poem content ranged from stories of loss and hopelessness to those of bliss and reminiscence; from complex relationships to personal dreams. Some were lengthy and descriptive, others were short but powerful. A few poets offered an explanation of their work, while others left the meaning up to their listeners.
“Interpret as you will,” Lane commented, just before he read his poem titled “RE.”
The theater lights were dimmed; the atmosphere, serene. Throughout each reading, audience members remained quiet, except perhaps when a particular line inspired interruptive—yet welcomed—applause. A few even snapped their fingers in approval.
After sharing a handful of her poems, Hahn announced that the Axley Award for Fiction and Poetry had been officially endowed. The award was established in 1994 to honor the late Dr. James Axley, a Rose State faculty member who served as the editor for “Pegasus” for more than a decade. Rose students with 3.0 GPA or higher and who have completed at least 12 credit hours are eligible to enter the contest for $500 in cash. The deadline for submissions, either three poems or two short stories, is Monday, April 30.
Sennhenn explained he participated in Poetry at Rose when it first began 30 years ago. He mentioned several names of people who were also involved from the very start.
“They all would be delighted … that we are still doing this,” he said.
Following a brief intermission held in the lobby, author and East Central University professor Ken Hada took the stage as the featured speaker to share just portions of his large original poetry collection.
The night concluded with Hada delivering his poem about a conversation he had with his son. All Poetry at Rose guests were offered a free copy of “Pegasus” as they left, and were able to purchase additional copies if they desired. The book can now be purchased in the Humanities division office for $3, as long as supplies last.
For information about publishing original work in next year’s “Pegasus,” contact Walther at firstname.lastname@example.org or 733-7513. For information regarding the Axley Award for Fiction and Poetry, email Hahn at email@example.com or call 733-7519.