Sorrell Chapel hosted poet Joseph Harrison Friday afternoon. Harrison, a native of Richmond, Virginia, moved to Alabama when his father became a professor at Auburn University.
The congregation of students and teachers who came to see Harrison filled every available space in the building.
“Since the poet grew up in Alabama, that drew my attention to hear his poetry, which in ways had been shaped by his upbringing in the South,” said Kalen Busby, a junior English major from Slapout.
Harrison is now a senior editor for Waywiser Press. The poet has released three poetry collections, “Someone Else’s Name” in 2003, “Identity Theft” in 2008 and “Shakespeare’s Horse” in 2015.
“Someone Else’s Name” was published by Waywiser in the United Kingdom and then by Zoo Press in 2004.
The collection was one of five recommended poetry books for 2004 by the Washington Post and a finalist for the 2005 Poets’ Prize.
Also in 2005, he won an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His other collections have seen similar critical acclaim.
The Yale alumnus read from his latest poetry collection, “Shakespeare’s Horse.” Harrison’s voice filled the chapel with a boisterous, confident recitation.
“People look to poetry to add another aesthetic fold to their lives,” Harrison said. “Like music or movies, poetry is something people find release in.
“Poetry can claim qualities of rigid structure and fluid art at the same time, making it appealing to a wide audience.”
“Poetry is particularly interesting to me as an expressive art in the way poets use very specific language and structures to create the precise emotion or effect they are wanting through their craft,” Busby said. “It is especially interesting in that sense as a writer myself.”
“To readers and those curious about poetry, I would tell to explore many writers and time periods,” Harrison said.