Professor to cite original work at memorial poetry reading

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

The Eastern English department will sponsor the second Nancy Hennings Memorial Poetry Reading at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bob’s Bookstore.

Creative writing professor Bess Winter will be featured reading original work at the event along with graduate student Kelly Pierce.

Winter began teaching creative writing at Eastern at the beginning of the fall semester, and she said the reading will be a good way to bring out members of the community.

“Hopefully it brings members of our English department and our students,” Winter said. “It’s a chance for us to share our creative work and just share a nice evening of enjoying writing.”

Winter said she is most looking forward to reading her work because she is new to Eastern.

“I’m looking forward to being able to share my work with my new colleagues and my new community, especially because it’s new work,” Winter said. “I usually don’t often read new work for a crowd, but I’m excited to share this particular piece because it was something that I wrote when I got to Charleston. It’s about Charleston in some ways.”

English professor Daiva Markelis said the Nancy Hennings Memorial Poetry Reading series was initiated in memory of a woman from the Charleston community.

“Nancy Hennings was kind of a guiding cultural force in Charleston,” Markelis said. “She would have these literary salons, and people would come and read from their work. I think it was mostly poetry.”

When Nancy Hennings died, her daughter, Deirdre Hennings, endowed money to continue her mother’s tradition.

The series includes three annual readings, and usually features a grad student as well as a faculty member and sometimes a featured guest reader from outside of the community.

“(The readings) usually take place in a very informal setting,” Markelis said. “We’ve been very grateful that Bob’s Bookstore has allowed us to use their space for nothing.”

Markelis said her favorite part of doing the readings is the variety of writers who have participated.

“We’ve had really interesting poets,” Markelis said. “Sometimes we have fiction writers, and that’s great. I think it’s nice to have something that isn’t just EIU-related, that isn’t just the campus, but we have quite a few people who are not students or faculty and they come and enjoy the readings, so I like that it’s kind of a community-building event.”

The readings will be free and open to the public and will also feature snacks and refreshments.

“It’s a good way for people to know of other writers in the area,” Markelis said. “It’s great for the students because they get practice in reading their work.”

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].