Writers Series ends with award-winning poet

GVL / Courtesy - Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown

GVL / Courtesy – Jericho Brown

Sanda Vazgec

Grand Valley State University continually tries to take learning outside of the classroom with interactive seminars and events featuring successful professionals, providing students with an opportunity to learn firsthand from inspirational individuals. One of these events is the Writers Series, which hosted its final installment of the academic year on March 28. The event featured Jericho Brown, an award-winning poet and writer.

Brown, an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University, has had an extensive career in poetry. His first book, “Please,” won an American Book Award, followed by his second book, “The New Testament,” winning the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He is also the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award.

Brown was chosen to wrap up the series because of his powerful poetry that addresses questions of identity and selfhood through a social and racial lens.

“Jericho Brown is a very political poet, and a gifted one,” said Oindrila Mukherjee, assistant professor of writing at GVSU. “We hope that his words inspired our students and left them with a lot to think about.”

Brown spoke about his career and what influences his writing as well as the social and racial issues affecting the world today. He also read and explained passages of his poetry.

The writing department sponsors the series and chooses authors to present their work and interact with students. Authors are chosen from all over the nation to represent different genres and bring diverse perspectives on literature and current issues.

The department aims to bring three to five authors to the university each year to speak to students and read from their work. The goal is to provide students with an authentic example of different possibilities and perspectives in writing and social issues.

“It’s really beneficial to meet the person behind the text we read,” said Brooke Knuppenburg, a GVSU student majoring in English. “Hearing someone talk about their work and what influences them gives more meaning to their work, I can better understand where they’re coming from.”

The writing department collaborates with other university departments to present the Writers Series and make the event successful. For the past three years, the series has been co-sponsored by the Latin American studies department, the school of communications and the Women’s Center. The latest installment featuring Brown was co-sponsored by the African and African American studies program.

By collaborating with other departments, the Writers Series is able to provide a more interdisciplinary approach and choose authors that can relate to students studying a variety of disciplines, not just writing.

The Writers Series will continue in the fall with a new range of authors and perspectives. For more information on the series and a list of past speakers, visit www.gvsu.edu/writing.