The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts May 5, 2007

Main Street Reading Features Missouri Writers

A small group of professors and creative writing majors gathered Sunday at the FAVA Gallery for the year’s final installment of the Main Street Reading Series. Poets John Gallaher, Wayne Miller, OC ’98 and Kevin Prufer did a triple reading; each spoke for twenty minutes.

Each of the poets writes, edits and teaches in Missouri, but also hold some connection to Ohio. Their poems ranged from clich&eacute;d break-up tragedies to visions of the Tsar’s children being shot, from nostalgic tales of kids running through open fields to anecdotes of ancient Roman Emperors. All three readers were charismatic and humorous despite the fact that many of their poems were of the usual grim matters that the writing world seems to revolve around.

John Gallaher read poems from his new book, The Little Book of Guesses, as well as from a series in which he wrote a poem every day in the month of April. The “poem-a-day project,” he said, actually turned out to be “a poem and one-tenth a day, which made me go insane.” Most of his poems were full of collage-style short lines creating vivid images like, “the robins following the lawn mower / the robins at the edge of the sprinkler’s arc.”

Miller, who recently published a book of poetry titled Only the Senses Sleep, began by telling the audience, “It is equally terrifying and wonderful to be reading to my old professors.” His poems indulge the opposite of what the title of his book may have implied. Miller’s detailed use of language activated all five senses. One of his strongest poems, “Pollack,” illustrates a slow motion close-up of drops of paint flying from the paintbrush to the canvas.

The final poet, Prufer, began by using poetic form to lure the audience into a familiar American setting: a parking lot outside of an outlet mall. The poem “National Anthem” shares the same name as his forthcoming collection of poetry, joining his most recent collection, Fallen From a Chariot. Many of his poems, like “National Anthem,” illustrate the state of American life with honest lines like, “and the shopping center said give me, give me.” Prufer used personal anecdotes to ask universal questions. His other poems addressed a range of diverse subject matter, like tragic army tales and Hannibal riding on a cruise ship.


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