Poet tells students to do what they love
Tyler Breedlover | reporter
After taking a 20-year hiatus, poet Paul Dickey returned to publishing his work in 2003, and he says he has a simple reason why.
“It is necessary for me personally to feel comfortable with myself,” he said. “It’s who I am. If I didn’t write, I would be somebody else.”
Dickey visited campus on Thursday, Feb. 28, for the Distinguished Visiting Writer’s Series. He read works from two books of poetry in a crowded Governors Room.
According to the Nebraska Center for Writers, Dickey obtained his master’s degree from Indiana University, and then transferred to Omaha, Neb., in 1986 where he was employed in data processing and management.
Dickey has works in almost 100 literary journals, has written many one-act plays and one full play, “The Good News According to St. Dude.” A full-length book of poetry, “They Say This is How Death Came Into the World,” was published in 2011, and his new book, “Wires Over the Homeplace,” comes out this fall.
Dickey began by reading his poem, “A Bad Break,” which discussed baseball player Lou Gehrig.
Many of Dickey’s readings are in the form of prose poems. Prose poems, says Chris Anderson, professor of English, are poems that are in paragraph form but have many patterns that are involved with poetry.
Dickey then discussed John Lennon and Paul McCartney in “Lennon and McCartney,” tales of when he met his wife in “Images of,” and the importance of paintings in “Rothko’s Yellow Band.” His final poem was about the state of the American presidency in “Closing Plants Still Manufacturing Dwight Eisenhower.”
Some in the audience praised Dickey’s poems.
“I thought it was very down to Earth, and he didn’t use extended metaphors or hoity-toity language,” said John-Paul Hurley, freshman at Labette Community College. “It was very relatable.”
Melissa Johnson, Pitt State alumni, says that Dickey’s poems are very conversational.
“I feel like people who aren’t really into poetry can get into his poems,” she said.
Taylor Klein, graduate student in poetry, says that she admires Dickey’s use of characters.
“I really enjoyed the range of characters and situations and how his poems made them come to life,” Klein said.
Dr. Chris Anderson, professor in English, says that he enjoys Dickey’s unconventionality.
“I enjoy his work partly because it does things that many people don’t think of as poetic subjects,” Anderson said.
Laura Washburn says that Dickey’s range of subject matter is one of his strong points.
“I think that he showed a great variety between prose poems that are whimsical and more grounded,” said Washburn, professor in English.
Dickey has a simple piece of advice for any aspiring writer:
“Don’t say that ‘poetry isn’t worth it’ or ‘someone else is doing this better than me.’ If you feel you are a writer, give yourself permission and write.”