Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University Poetry Center held its first Lighthouse Reading Series of 2018 Feb. 9 in the Galleries at CSU. At its reading, the Poetry Center hosted poet Yona Harvey and essayist James Allen Hall.
Harvey, who is the author of “Hemming the Water,” won the Kate Tufts Discovery award in poetry and has essays and poems appearing in other works. She also co-wrote Marvel’s “Black Panther” and “The Crew,” and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
Standing at a podium in front of George Kozmon’s “Cloudscape,” a monochromatic canvas depicting stonework and mountains, Harvey read some of her poems to a large crowd. A few of Harvey’s readings included “Hurricane,” “Posting Bail,” and “Necessarily.”
Between each of the poems, Harvey described her inspirations for the work. Her final poem was “Hush Harbor,” and according to Harvey, it was inspired by the city of Charleston and named after the areas where enslaved people used to meet to practice their religion away from the plantations.
Hall took the podium after Harvey. His collection of personal lyric essays, “I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well,” won the CSU Poetry Center Essay Collection Award. Hill wrote the poetry collection “Now You’re the Enemy,” which has won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Hall read the title essay of “I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well.” Before he began to read his work, Hall warned the audience that his essay depicted sexual assault. His essay spoke about rape, suicide and ended with statistics about sexual assault.
According to the Poetry Center’s Associate Director and Editor Hilary Plum, the Poetry Center tries to bring all of the authors that the Poetry Center published that year to speak at its Lighthouse Reading Series.
“We also bring other poets and essayists from around the country whose work we admire and are excited about,” Plum said.
Plum hopes that these free readings are a pleasure for the public.
“We hope to bring a wide range of people doing a wide range of work and share that with the students,” Plum said. “Often times, professors at CSU teach some of the books [featured at the Lighthouse Reading Series], so it feels like it’s really sort of a conversation about literature that’s happening right now…”
The long-time poetry event holds readings twice in both the spring and fall semesters, totaling four readings a year. The next edition of the Lighthouse Reading Series on March 30 will feature Renee Gladman and Dave Lucas.
Photo by Gwendolyn Kochur