Pitt State lecturer Allison Blevins not only teaches on women and gender studies but also writes poetry on the subject. Blevins was featured as part of the Distinguished Visiting Writer’s Series Thursday, March 21, to read her work.
Blevins was the first author to visit campus this semester for the Distinguished Visiting Writer’s Series, reading themed poetry of feminism, motherhood, art, life as a woman, and more. The night’s reading was co-sponsored by Pittsburg State’s women and gender studies program in celebration of women’s history month.
“(I find inspiration) in my life for sure and being a mom and a parent, and I teach women studies here, so the themes that are in the books I think are very similar to the things that I’m thinking about as a teacher, just women’s issues in general,” Blevins said.
Blevins has two chapbooks that were published this year—one of which was released the night of her reading—with another coming soon. Her two books are titled “A Season for Speaking” and “Letters to Joan.” Blevins said she calls herself a “confessional poet.”
“I think of poetry a lot like therapy, so it’s more of a have to than a want to,” she said. “And so some things that I wouldn’t even probably discuss with other people I write about, then I end up reading to large groups of people, which is maybe a strange thing to do. But I think I’m kind of a quiet, introverted person—in real life, not in poetry life—and so these are things that I need to deal with that I don’t deal with in other ways and I use poetry to kind of work out all that mental health stuff.”
For audience members, the topics of her poems stood out during her reading, such as for Chanda Williams, graduate student in English.
“I really connected with it. I’m not a mother or anything, but some of the stuff she talked about—being a women, that kind of stuff—I was just able to connect with it really well, so I liked it,” Williams said. “… I think it’s just really raw and real, and at no point does it feel like she’s trying to be something she’s not, it’s just her personal story and I think a lot of the time it’s a lot easier to connect with someone when they’re being real.”
Williams said she enjoyed Blevins’ poetry reading because she has similar interests as Blevins.
“I’d seen Allison’s poems online and I heard a lot about her and we have a lot of the same interests—feminism, stuff like that—so I thought I’d come check it out.”
Aubrey Bolinger, senior at Pittsburg High School, attended the reading with fellow classmates as part of their AP Literature class.
“… It was cool, we’ve done it a few times, actually, but this one was one of the more interesting ones,” Bolinger. “I really liked the poems...”
Bolinger was also intrigued by Blevins’ poetry due to the content and her presentation.
“She was very open and honest, which I really liked,” Bolinger said. “And I really liked when she talked about her kids because you could just tell that she really loved them and she had a big smile on her face every time she talked about them.”
While Blevins often writes about her life as a woman and her encounters, she began writing early in life around the age of seven and has kept it close to her since.
“… I used to carry one of those little journals with me and write all the time,” Blevins said. “But then I wrote a lot on college and published in the college newspaper and was interested in studying it but I just sort of thought I had to have a real job, so I got a real job and didn’t pursue it except just sort of as a hobby. When I moved home to Pittsburg I … said, ‘I’m going to go to school,’ and I was looking for schools and I figured out that Pitt State had a creative writing program and I ended up getting in …”
Blevins said that her experience at Pitt State and the faculty “shaped what was a scribbling hobby into real poems.”
“… Then after I graduated I went out and got my MFA and just started publishing and taking it more seriously as a career,” Blevins said.
Through her publishing and public readings, Blevins has a forum to draw light to her encounters of feminism, motherhood, life as a woman, and more, in addition to teaching.
“Yeah, I really liked these and I’ll definitely come to more,” Bolinger said. “I think it’s really interesting to hear other people’s poetry and see what other people talk about...”