A. E. Stallings, author of two anthologies of poetry, came to West Chester University to present her work and explain how she has accomplished them on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Her books are “Hapax” and “Archaic Smile.” Her first poems were published at a young age in the magazine “Seventeen.” Stallings’ poetry is influenced by her life experiences and relations. She shared her poems about Greek mythology, natural disasters, lovers and losses.
Stallings wrote many poems about Greek mythology before moving to Greece in 1999. She was influenced by a Greek poet, Lucetius, who wrote about religious matters in his poetry. Her poems include language and culture traditions from America and Greece.
Ironically, she explained how many poets write while having their morning coffee about something dramatic that may have influenced him/her or have not experienced. She concluded that many love poems are written by poets that did not write them specifically for anyone in particular. However, she suggests if one gets into an argument with his/her significant other, they could write a poem to express what they feel.
Stallings wrote poems that she thought editors would want to read and publish. Then she started to write what she wanted to as well as what she enjoyed. The poems that she favored were more popular among readers. She informed the audience that many poets write about what interests them, and she gave writers the same advice.
Shortly after her move to Greece, Stallings and her family experienced their first natural disaster an earthquake. At first it scared her; afterwards, she got the idea to interpret what happened into a poem titled “Natural Disaster.” This was her prime instance of when she wrote poems based off of her real life experiences.
She wrote a meaningful poem about the passing of her father and her emotions. When she had a son on the way, she wrote poems about the experience and the joy of having a family. She mainly wrote poems about the changes in her life, especially about life and death, along with everything that went on in between.
Writing styles consist of sonnets, basic structures, clichés and free verse. She also wrote some that were not in poetic form such as her poem titled “First love: a quiz.” This poem was written in the format of a multiple choice quiz. It can be read from top to bottom or the reader can even choose to read the corresponding answers from all of the questions.
A title is created by the context of the poem. The title can be long or short, as long as it describes the poetry. Stallings’ poem titles include “Burned,” “It” and “Ultrasound.”
“Burned” has a French form that mixes two rhythms together. One would have to read the poem to hear how it works and what rhythms are used. “Ultrasound” is a two-part poem.
Poems can be written and rewritten until the poet is satisfied with it. Stallings’ personal technique is to print out her poem and read it aloud. Then she makes the necessary changes and finalizes it to be the way she likes it. She considers a poem complete when she does not make anymore changes to the writing.
Stallings explained how writing poems is all about freedom and choices. She said that poems have structures to help guide a writer to create his/her own poems. Writers can use any of the styles, but should not feel limited to only one.
Stallings not only read her poetry that had developed through influences of her life, but she also gave influence to West Chester students and residents.
She was not trying to explain to people the basics of writing of a poem, but what they can to do write their own. She informed the audiences that it could take one try to write a poem, but it could also take some years to get it right. She suggests writing from persons emotions, creativity and personal experiences.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.