The monthlong annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history will draw to a close with a poetic finale.
Best-selling poets Carl Phillips and Mark Doty will round out UT’s observance of LGBTQA History Month with a poetry reading and book signing Thursday, Oct. 30, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2592.
Spectrum President LaVelle Ridley said he anticipates the poets to discuss gay identity and how it plays a role in different life experiences.
“From listening to their poems and discussion, I hope students witness how one’s personal identity, whether it be sexual, racial, etcetera, can shape how they decide to express themselves in all spheres of life,” he said. “I also want students to realize how successful LGBT figures can be in the professional world, even the literary one.”
Phillips is a professor of English and African and Afro-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He’s authored several collections of poems, including The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination; Silverchest; and Quiver and Arrows: Selected Poems, 1986-2006. His collection The Rest of Love won the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry.
Doty has written a number of collections of poetry, including Sweet Machine and Paragon Park, and has also won the 2008 National Book Award for Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. His personal memoir, Dog Years, was a New York Times bestseller in 2007. Doty won the T.S. Elliot Prize for his collection My Alexandria, which focuses on the AIDS epidemic and offers comfort to those diagnosed with HIV. The award is Britain’s most significant annual award for poetry, and Doty was the first American to receive it.
“Poetry is a great way to express life experiences and obstacles, but it isn’t the only way,” Ridley said. “As an English major, I personally believe that there is so much power behind the written word that anyone can tap into. Historically, many LGBTQ figures have utilized poetry or fiction to not only express themselves, but carve out a space for writers like themselves.”
In addition to these speakers, Spectrum has been promoting LGBTQA awareness all month with events like the Drag/Talent Show and a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“LGBTQA History Month is important because it gives members of the community a chance to celebrate ourselves, appreciate our diversity, and work toward achieving goals in society as a whole,” Ridley said. “The fact that we are able to celebrate our heritage month here at UT signals the campus’ drive toward diversity and inclusion.”
For more information, contact Ridley at firstname.lastname@example.org.