Contemporary poets celebrate works at Beall Festival

By Anja Rosales
and Ian Currie

Literary icons: masters of words, image and meter — poetry steps off the page and onto campus this week.
The 20th annual Beall Poetry Festival, beginning today and ends Friday, is full of events for poetry lovers. The 2014 festival features four award-winning guest participants: Andrew Hudgins, Valzhyna Mort, Christian Wiman and Ronald Schuchard.

Dr. Richard Russell, professor in the English department, is in his fourth year as the director of the committee responsible for bringing the Beall Poetry Festival to campus.

“We decide as a committee who we want to bring in each year for the festival,” Russell said. “We try to get three to four nationally known poets and one up-and-coming poet. This year, Valzhyna Mort is our up-and-coming poet from Russia.”

The Student Literary Awards kicks off the festival at 3:30 p.m. today in 101 Carroll Science Building. Undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at Baylor submitted works such as poetry and fictional entries. The contest closed earlier this month. Winners of these works will receive monetary prizes ranging from $50 to $100.

This year’s critic for the festival is poet Ronald Schuchard.

Dr. Luke Ferretter, associate professor in the English department, runs the student literary competition, which according to Russell, had about 50-75 entries this year. Ferretter said there are a lot of people to whom their own creative writing is very important.

“People value the feedback they receive from the judges,” Ferretter said. “Most importantly, perhaps, is the dialogue it creates between the students and professional writers.”

At 6:30 p.m. today in Bennett Auditorium, Ronald Schuchard will present the Virginia Beall Ball Lecture in Contemporary Poetry.

Thursday will be filled with poetry readings in Bennett Auditorium by Valzhyna Mort at 3:30 p.m. and by Christian Weiman at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Joshua King, assistant professor in English, has been on the planning committee for the past three years and said he is happy to have Wiman as a reader.

“I was most excited about Christian Wiman, who is from East Texas, but is very internationally minded,” King said.

Wiman is a critically acclaimed international poet. He served as the editor of “Poetry,” one of the oldest American magazines of verse, until 2013.

His most recent poetry anthology is titled “Every Riven Thing.” In 2013 he published a series of meditations entitled “My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer.”

Friday will feature a panel discussion among all four participants. This will take place at 3:30 p.m. in 101 Carroll Science Building.

The final event of the festival is a poetry reading by Andrew Hudgins at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Bennett Auditorium.

King said the roundtable is an exciting event in the program.

“I love the roundtable discussion as it showcases a rare occasion where poets think out loud about their work and the place of poetry in the world,” King said.

Setina said she also thought the most interesting part of the festival was the discussion.

“The chance to just hear them speak on their ideas about working with their craft is extremely interesting,” Setina said. “The fact that these poets have been around each other and listening to each other’s poems for a couple of days makes their discussions more interesting.”