Poets Out Loud Presents Jill Bialosky and Kimberly Johnson


(Kayla Ogle/The Observer)
Jill Bialosky (right) and Kimberly Johnson (left) answering questions after the poetry reading. (Kayla Ogle/The Observer)

On Monday, Sept. 15, elements of the everyday, natural world came alive through poetry at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC). Poets Out Loud kicked off their 2014-2015 reading series with two distinguished poets, Jill Bialosky and Kimberly Johnson. Each poet read their carefully orchestrated collection of poetry to an audience of Fordham faculty and students, as well as high school students from the outreach program.

“Poets Out Loud is an exciting event at Fordham,” Director of the Poets Out Loud reading series Heather Dubrow, said. “[The event] gives the audience a chance to experience the style and technique of poetry. Moreover, Poets Out Loud gives audiences the chance to hear professional poets – some of the readers range from famous to emerging poets. I think that there is a real pleasure from hearing poetry read aloud.”

The poetry from Bialosky and Johnson share a number of similarities, and both tie into the same theme. “Each of the readings deeply involve the elements of sound,” Dubrow said. Furthermore, both Bialosky and Johnson’s poetry tied into the major themes of “The Powers” by Valerie Sayers, which is the novel read in first-year orientation at Fordham. The novel, which also encapsulates motion, takes place in summer of 1941, when Europe is caught in war and baseball mania hits the United States.

Cleveland-based poet Jill Bialosky, most evidently showed similarities to “The Powers” in her readings at Poets Out Loud. As portrayed in her poem entitled “Rules of Contact”, Bialosky showcases how the game of baseball and the relationships in-and-out of the field have inspired her poetry.

“[Bialosky] writes about the natural world,” said Dubrow. Especially noticed in the “Rules of Contact”, Bialosky compares the movement and emotional reactions in baseball to the detailed elements of nature.

In addition to her close attention to detail, Bialosky also highlights the various kinds of relationships in her poetry. Readings from two of her books, “Subterranean” and “The End of Desire”, range in telling relationships, most particularly in the family, like parental and sibling relationships.

Like Bialosky, Johnson also writes about the natural world in her poetry. “[Johnson’s] poetry covers the everything in the physical everyday world – from the body to the earth. She writes about weird things, and she talks about everyday elements with words of abstraction,” Dubrow said.

To make these words of abstraction standout, Johnson incorporates sound, chants and rhythm into her poetry, as most notably conveyed in her collections in “Leviathan with a Hook,” “A Metaphorical God” and “Uncommon Prayer”.

Moreover, Johnson’s poems also include elements of the spiritual world. “Her poetry combines the physical and the spiritual – there is a combination of the mundane with the mysteries of the outside world,” Dubrow said. “[Her collection] shows there is always one seeking the divine and spiritual.”

Along with the poetry readings, the evening included a Q&A period, when audience members had a chance to engage and ask Bialosky and Johnson questions about their poems. The Poets Out Loud reading closed with a reception.

Poets Out Loud will feature Timothy Donnelly and Nigel Smith, with the performance settings of poems by Donne and Paul Muldoon on Oct. 22.