On Tuesday, Nov. 30, poet Jennifer Atkinson will be visiting Centre College to give a reading from her new book, Drift Ice. “Her new book is just extraordinary,” says fellow poet Lisa Williams, associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Centre. Her work is of interest to environmental studies students as well as those studying literature and poetry.”
Atkinson, who teaches English at George Mason University, received the University of Alabama Poetry Prize for her first book of poems, The Dogwood Tree, in 1990. A decade later, she was awarded the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize for her second collection, The Drowned City.
Unlike The Drowned City, Drift Ice has what Atkinson calls “a more avowedly ecopoetical grounding.” In an interview with The Mason Gazette, she says that the new collection “includes a sequence of poems set in Prince Edward Sound, Alaska, 15 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated the sound, its shores, its ecological balance. Other poems are set on and beside Long Island Sound, whose ecobalance is strained by the constant frictions of its urban and suburban context. Another group of poems are set in Sri Lanka, before and, in one case, after the 2004 tsunami. The poems investigate how ecosystems adapt and evolve. And, I hope, they posit poems as delicate ecosystems of their own in which any change in one line affects every other.”
Atkinson will be reading at 8 p.m. in the Ewen Room of the Campus Center, and all are welcome to attend and are sure to enjoy her poetry.
“Her poems are concerned and responsive testimonies to the importance of the natural world,” Williams says, “and they’re also intricately beautiful works of art.”