Spirit of Alabama: Student poets grow, hone craft together
Do you remember some of the poetry teachers had you memorize in school? Maybe it was “Stopping in the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
While most people agree that poetry stirs emotions and should be required reading in school, not all that many take the time to read or write it outside a classroom environment.
But at the University of Alabama, a trio of aspiring poets are getting the word out about the underappreciated art form.
Lizzie Brown is a UA senior majoring in English who hails from Birmingham.
“I think poetry is important because it’s good for the mind and soul, and it’s important to create and express yourself,” Brown said.
Avery Brooks, also from Birmingham, is a UA senior majoring in creative media.
“I think poetry and creative writing generally are important because it’s one of the only opportunities we as human beings to get to see the world from another person’s perspective,” Brooks said.
And Cass Lesko is a UA senior majoring in English from New Mexico.
“I think poetry is important because it gives people an outlet to express feelings and emotions that sometimes we’re sometimes otherwise discouraged from expressing,” Lesko said.
All three say it’s been a lifelong passion, but they haven’t always gotten the support they needed.
“I started writing poetry in eighth grade, but people made fun of me for it,” said Lesko. “So I stopped until sophomore year in in college, and I’ve only been seriously writing for two years now.”
Failure is part of the process, but what doesn’t work makes you better.
“I think if you want to get really good, you have to be pretty discerning and not feel great about everything you do,” Brooks said. “Part of an artist is being really uncomfortable.”
And then there’s the feasibility of making it a living. But like most authors and artists, that’s not their primary concern.
“I think it’s possible, definitely difficult, more difficult than anyone wants to say. But I think with something you’re really passionate about, pursuing it is the most important thing,” Brown said.
Have you ever tried your hand at poetry? You’ve undoubtedly written a haiku, sonnet or limerick in school, but there’s so much more to it than that. The University of Alabama’s Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library holds more than 4,000 books of poetry.
And every poet there started somewhere.
Interested in dipping your toes into the medium? Some top poets of yesterday and today include:
- William Shakespeare
- Oscar Wilde
- Robert Frost
- Shel Silverstein
- Rudyard Kipling
- Sylvia Plath
- William Butler Yeats
- Alice Walker
- Mark Twain
- Lewis Carroll
- Margaret Atwood
- Rupi Kapur
In addition, University of Alabama’s Black Warrior Review publishes twice a year and includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics and art.