Ordinary Wonder: Three Poets on Writing and Reality

HoCoPoLitSo’s 45th literary season opens with the Lucille Clifton Reading Series featuring three Maryland poets with new, acclaimed collections.  Michael Collier, Elizabeth Spires, and David Yezzi, each in their own way, hold up the ordinary world to the light of poetry and examine everyday mysteries, both beautiful and horrible. This celebration of HoCoPoLitSo’s forty-five years of literary programming will include a book signing and wine and cheese reception.  The suggested donation for this event is $5.00.  

Michael Collier’s most recent collection is My Bishop and Other Poems (2018).  Poet and professor A. Van Jordan wrote, “My Bishop and Other Poems reminds us of the power of the observant in an age when, too often, we move too quickly to notice the world unfolding around us. These poems bring a passion, an empathy, and a way of seeing I had forgotten was possible.” Collier’s other collections include An Individual History, a finalist for the Poet’s Prize, and The Ledge, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.  He is the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Maryland, a director emeritus of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, and a former Maryland Poet Laureate. 

 Elizabeth Spires newest poetry collection, A Memory of The Future (2018), was influenced by Zen and Asian art. The New York Times wrote of the work, “In these lyrical verses, Spires questions the quotidian, elevating the everyday to a meditational art form.” Spires’ other collections include Worldling, Now the Green Blade Rises, and The Wave-Maker.  The author of six books for children, Spires lives in Baltimore and is a professor of English at Goucher College.

 David Yezzi’s newest collection of poems is Black Sea (2018).  Other collections include Birds of the Air, Azores, and The Hidden Model.  Reviewing Birds of the Air (2013), Farisa Khalid noted the poem Orts “does something that many poems strive for but don’t quite get at, and that’s conveying with clarity the otherness of our world—the strange beauty of what we experience and the mystery of what we can’t always understand.”  Yezzi has contributed poems and criticism to The New York Times Book ReviewThe Times Literary SupplementThe Wall Street JournalThe Paris ReviewThe New RepublicPoetryThe Yale ReviewPoetry Daily, and elsewhere.  Yezzi, who lives in Baltimore, is the editor of The Hopkins Review and poetry editor of The New Criterion, and chair of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.