Words bringing rise to joyful laughter and capable of drawing tears from the hardest eye filled the air Monday at the first performance of Dixie State University’s visiting reader series featuring poet Gary Dop.
A small crowd of literary enthusiasts, students and faculty gathered at the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons for a traditional poetry reading. Although a few attended with the promise of free food or extra credit, many left with a greater appreciation of poetry and advice about the challenges of getting literature published in today’s market.
Polly Bringhurst, a junior English major from Sandy, was looking forward to hearing Dop’s poetry. She met him last year when he taught a writing workshop at a literary conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although she never read his work, she said he was a good teacher and wanted to know more about how he got published.
Dop, a Randolph College creative writing professor, performer and playwright, shared selections from his first collection of poems, “Father, Child, Water.” He has been awarded the Pushcart Prize Special Mention and the 2013 Great Plains Emerging Writer prize and publishes 10-15 poems in journals throughout the country each year.
Judging from the applause and laughter, the overwhelming favorite poem of the night was “Pothead Pete’s English Presentation.”
Dop said performance comes more easily to him than writing.
“I was an actor before I was a writer,” he said. ”I feel very comfortable in front of a crowd and I like connecting with people and really enjoy reading my work.”
Dop said the most important thing to remember as a potential writer is the journey toward success; being published is a long and demanding process. Rejection happens often and it should be celebrated because it means the game is being played, Dop said. He said writers should expect to have long-term goals and approach every situation with kindness and compassion.
“The writing world can be quite cruel to people who are cruel to others,” he said.
The visiting reader series is sponsored by the English department’s creative writing program and was organized by English lecturer Robert Gray. He said at least three more readings are being planned throughout the year and will feature other styles of writing including creative non-fiction and fiction authors.
Gray said these events are good for DSU and the English Department.
“It’s important for the community,” he said. “It brings everyone together, and I had a great time.”
To learn more about the writing program, visit dixie.edu/English.