Most of the leaves had fallen, and the sky was already dark Thursday evening as people began to fill the Gore School of Business Auditorium at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. An associate from The King’s English was doing a brisk business at a table in the foyer – eleven different books by the two talented poets featured for the Anne Newman Sutton Weeks Poetry Series. The audience was an interesting mix of well-known poets and writers, members of The Salt Lake City Arts Council, students, and local residents. The curator for the poetry series, Natasha Saje, graciously introduced each of the poets using language that was poetry all on its own. Natasha Saje, a poet herself, is a Professor of English and the of author two books on poetry and many essays.
The always elegant Lisa Bickmore, Professor of English at Salt Lake Community College, read first. With a full thirty minutes, she was able to read from two of her collections, flicker and Ephemerist, as well as new poems. Her work in flicker is spare and tight with nothing unnecessary. She carefully chooses just the right word to convey intense feelings of introspection, something all the listeners could relate to deep in their core. She explained that her poems in Ephemerist were inspired by music. For people who have heard her read before, there were a few familiar favorites like Sakura as well as others from this, her newest collection. She concluded with a new poem, a reflection on the tragic death of Hank Williams.
Lia Purpura, Writer in Residence at University of Maryland in Baltimore County, has eight collections of poems, essays, and translations. She read primarily from her collection, It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful. Lia Purpura’s poems are short, punchy, and sharp. They pierce your imagination and conclude almost before you can register the intrusion. She spoke briefly between poems on the joys of her first ISBN, when her work was used as the epigraph at the beginning of a math text book, and opening the City Paper to find that her poem “Time” was mentioned in her own horoscope in the Free Will Astrology column. She finished her thirty minutes with her essay, “On Photographing Children in Trees,” which was less an essay and more of a long prose poem, packed with imagery and emotion.
The poets retired to the Foster Faculty Lounge for a reception and to sign their work, though it took them some time to get there. People stopped to congratulate them and pose for photos every few steps.
Anne Newman Sutton Weeks, a Westminster College alumnus, published her collection, Poems from Anne: the verses in 1994. She passed away in 1997 at the age of 99, but her love for poetry lives on in The Anne Newman Sutton Weeks Poetry Series, an ongoing program of regular free poetry readings by major poets from around the world. The series is funded by an endowment from the founder.