Blast from the Past: A Night of Poetry at Salem State (September 2012)

September 20th  – Professors Ann Taylor and Kevin Carey recited the poetry of themselves and their students. The Martin Luther King Room quickly filled up with a crowd eager for verse and prose. The reading was kicked off by host Rod Kessler, Head of the Creative Writing Department at Salem State Univeristy. Kessler opened with some general humor saying “it is fine if people sit on the tables. Here! This is how you do it.” After the remark Kessler sat down on the table behind him. Professor Carey took up the first half of the reading.

Carey is a creative writer influenced by his life events and has recently published his book of poetry titled “The One-Fifteen to Penn Station.”Kessler pointed out that Carey also won the best screen play at the 2009 NH Film Fest for “Peter’s Song” (co-written with Ed Boyle). While doing his readings, Carey read with a sense of recollection and calmness as most of his poems were anecdotes. Carey read aloud seven poems, for instance his poem “Uncle Paul” recalled how his uncle “could roll a rubber tire thirty feet and make it come back to him, before the cancer, not once, but twice” while in the Navy. Another poem that really got people thinking was “White Mountains” about how he recalls being in the mountains at the same moment 9/11 happened and traveling back to the same location six years later and the sense of mortality it gives. Professor Taylor came after Carey deferring “I have a tough act to follow.”

Professor Taylor is an author of poetry highly influenced by the great authors in British Literature; she has published “The River Within” which won the Cathlamet Prizefor poetry by the Ravenna Press. Taylor’s poetry sometimes reflected a strong rhyming scheme with references to historical figures and trips taken to different locals. Taylor also read aloud several poems, including “Let There Be Moose” and a student written poem called “Spectral.” Taylor’s imagery descried a scene in Moosehead, Maine, “Near the paved lot, in evening shadow of the public-works sign forbidding moose-watching, the last lingers, this day done.” The poem “Spectral” is written about how the memory of school work on poetry can remain in students’ heads; “I am, I hope, their life long reading ghost.”

After the readings were done the crowd asked the poets questions with subjects like their influences and why they enjoy writing. Writing is lonely,” shared Carey on how writing is a very solitary action and how he enjoys getting advice from others. Carey explaining how he often reads aloud his poems while editing them to hear how they sound “writing to ear can be very hard in this Revere accent.” Professor Taylor said that she often thinks of the great authors in British Literature stating that one of her poems “echoed Wardsworth’s Tintern Abbey.”

The crowd responded very warmly to the poems, even breaking etiquette to clap in-between poetry reading. Host Kessler later reminded them not too. “I loved them, despite the distracting echoes,” shared Salem Writers Council member Joe McGurne, commenting on the reverberation of the sound system. “Ann Taylor’s writing is very funny, [and] Carey can make observations that not many can pick up on. Both were great,” said McGurne.

Student Via Perkins felt both poets had their own unique styles, “Both were very powerful in their own way, and very emotive.” Another student, John Toothaker, shared his feelings on both poets saying “I liked Kevin Carey for his voice since it was very moving. It was based off aesthetics. His demeanor, working class, was contradicted by his voice.” In regards to Taylor, Toothaker finished by saying, “I loved that she was very witty and used her traveling and observations. She seemed to employ quite strong witticism centered around the historical facts which she studied.”

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