The 30th Annual Maurice Brown Poetry Reading

On Oct. 24 Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna Goodison will be reading works of her literature at the 30th annual reading at Oakland University.

“The poet laureate is a tradition that started in Brittain that’s a way to honor the foremost poet alive and working in a certain realm or country,” said Katie Hartsock, assistant professor of English at Oakland University, who studied under Goodison at the University of Michigan.

“She said she really believes poetry is supposed to help people… Lorna embodies a central spirit in poetry for me in that she really wants it to be an offering, a gift to her readers and she wants to make a connection that lets people believe hopefully for the future even amidst challenges and chaos and difficulty.”

Goodison, who took the title of Poet Laureate of Jamaica this past May, has lived all over the world, including Ann Arbor for several years during her time teaching there. Her work embodies family relationships during a post WWII Jamaica still under colonialism. She also writes about people and their connections to the past.

With a new poem collective recently released, Goodison is coming to add to the Maurice Brown collection in Kresge Library. The collection consists of poems that each yearly guest writer has read aloud at OU in honor of Brown, who was a beloved professor of English.

“He was the first American literature specialist in the Department of English and I had the pleasure of working with him for about fifteen years,” said Jane Eberwein, distinguished professor of English. “I remember him as a helpful and entertaining colleague with a great range of interests and special dedication to reading and teaching innovative literary texts as well as the classics.”

Brown earned his undergraduate degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Before completing his graduate degree from Harvard he was drafted into the Korean War. It was at Harvard that Maurice met his wife Judith, an alumna professor of anthropology at OU. They met in the lunchroom.

“He himself did not write poetry he just read poetry and taught poetry,” Judith Brown said.

Judith Brown was married to Maurice for 27 years before he passed away and she continues to help organize and fund the poetry reading event in his name every year.

“Its quite different from what else goes on at Oakland and I think the students are happy to have an event like that because everything is math and science and computers and suddenly here is an event that’s all poetry and I think that really appeals to the students,” Judith said.

The event will begin with a craft talk for students in room 208 at Oak View Hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The poetry reading will take place at 5 p.m. in the Oakland Room of the Oakland Center and is open to the Oakland Community and general public.

There will be copies of Goodison’s latest collective for sale that she can sign at the event. Students that are interested in attending the craft talk need to RSVP with Katie Hartsock ([email protected]) due to limited space.