Poet-in-residence Maddox to show poetry as ‘confrontation of life’



Jennifer Shore | Staff Writer

The Writers’ Center brings poet-in-residence Marjorie Maddox to Chautauqua for Week Three, and in turn, she encourages Chautauquans to bring poetry to everybody else.

Maddox will present a Brown Bag lecture, “The Power to Inspire: Bringing Poetry to the People,” at 12:15 p.m. today on the Alumni Hall porch, which coincides with the week’s morning lecture theme, “Inspire. Commit. Act.”

“I’m hoping I can give them some ideas about how to implement this love of poetry and conversation that can stem from it in their own communities,” Maddox said. “I guess that is the link to this idea of inspiring, committing and acting.”

She is the director of creative writing and an English professor at Lock Haven University, and she has published eight poetry collections along with poems, stories and essays in a variety of anthologies and journals.

Clara Silverstein, director of the Writers’ Center, said Maddox’s range of writing will make her a good fit at Chautauqua, and she is also the first poet-in-residence to collaborate with the Young Readers program.

Maddox, the author of two children’s books, wants people to understand the importance of bringing poetry into elementary schools and to children.

“There’s a playful and fun side, but there’s also that side that really deals with who we are as individuals and the struggles that we encounter and the joys that we experience,” Maddox said. “It has everything to do with life.”

We are all born with a love of language, she said, but then it flitters out in grade school because everything is geared toward test taking.

“I just think it’s really important to encourage that love and playfulness with language and also just how it deals with so many important issues that are impacting children today,” Maddox said.

She runs a reading series through Lock Haven to connect the community with students and gives readings throughout Pennsylvania of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, which she co-edited.

Some people use poetry and literature as an escape, but Maddox said she believes poetry is a confrontation of life — just like paintings and music.

“Poetry helps you experience another view or situation or memory that someone has on all different levels,” she said. “I also think it deals with what we experience every day, how we see the world, and that’s why I think reading it is so important.”

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