Randall VanderMey, Westmont professor of English, will read selections of his poetry while prompting the audience to think about the role of poetry Tuesday, March 5, from 7-9 p.m. in Hieronymus Lounge at Westmont’s Kerrwood Hall. The Paul C. Wilt Phi Kappa Phi spring lecture, “Occasional Poems: Readings and Reflections on a Suspect Genre,” is free and open to the public.
Marianne Robins, professor of history, and Cheri Larsen Hoeckley, professor of English, will respond to VanderMey’s talk.
VanderMey says poets, especially poet laureates, are often asked to compose poems for public occasions, called occasional poems. “Writing on request doesn’t match the popular image of the poetic genius, alone in a garret, laboring in obscurity and scribbling in language that is even more obscure,” he says. “The whole genre of occasional poetry might appear pedestrian, utilitarian and uninspired. I will make the case for moving a world toward respect for the place of occasional poems in a more humane social order.”
VanderMey wrote “Platinum Circle: A Play in Three One-Acts,” which the Westmont Festival Theatre performs through March 3. He also played Leonato in Westmont’s fall production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“It’s exciting to have a poet taking on this role, bringing together creative arts and scholarship on poetry,” says Larsen Hoeckley, president of Phi Kappa Phi.
VanderMey, a graduate of Calvin College, earned a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Fine Arts and doctorate from the University of Iowa.
He has written several books, including “Charm School: Five Women of the Odyssey,” “The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching” and “God Talk: Triteness and Truth in Christian Clichés.” His poems have been published in many publications such as Christianity and Literature, Mars Hill Review, Potpourri and the Penwood Review.