JACKSON, Tenn. – April 10, 2002 – Union University faculty and students and guests from the Jackson community recently gathered for a poetry reading and book signing by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Dave Smith. The Thursday evening event, hosted by the English Department, the Union University Lyceum, and the College of Arts and Sciences, was the second reading given at Union this semester by an acclaimed author.
A Boyd Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and co-editor of the Southern Review, Smith is the author of seventeen books of poetry, two works of fiction, and three books of criticism, including most recently The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and has been editor of the Southern Messenger Signature Poets Series at Louisiana State University Press since 1995.
“Union University has been fortunate to host a writer of this stature,” said Bobby Rogers, associate English professor at Union. “Dave Smith is one of the leading voices among contemporary American poets, especially Southern poetry.”
Sharing stories about the background and history of his poems, Smith captivated the audience with selections from his books and unpublished works. “Most of my poetry tells a story,” Smith explained.
“To hear Smith’s newest, unpublished poems was a special privilege,” said Gavin Richardson, interim chair of Union’s English department. “It was a vote of confidence in the ability of his audience to understand his new material and came from interacting with the students and faculty prior to the reading.”
When asked what he defined as poetry, Smith replied that he likes what is called impure poetry the best “because it constitutes the unpleasant but real aspects of life,” explained Smith.
“Every writer wants to feel their life has purpose,” said Smith. “I think the best way to have purpose in writing is to describe reality and pain, but to confirm that it is good to be alive.”
By Mariann Martin, Class of 2005
Sara B. Horn,