Poet zooms to UCO for reading event

The UCO College of Education and Professional Studies will host a poetry reading through Zoom with poet Layli Long Soldier at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Though the event will be virtual, both UCO students and the Edmond community are invited to attend. 

Soldier will conduct a live reading of several of her poems throughout the event. 

“The event is open to anyone,” said Wendy Barnes, the organizer for the event,  “We hope a lot of UCO students will attend, but they can certainly invite friends, family, or anyone they would like to join us. She will read poems and, if there is time, we will conduct a Q and A.” 

The College of Education has hosted several poets throughout UCO’s history. Barnes, the visiting poet in residence for UCO, is new to the position. This is her first year organizing poetry readings for the community. 

“I chose Layli Long Soldier because she is simply one of my favorite poets, and to my mind, one of our best American poets.” Barnes said. “I think her formal innovation is masterful, and her book ‘Whereas’ is a book that I teach to undergraduate and graduate students in poetry. The book’s social and political concerns are also incredibly relevant. Whereas directly addresses the bureaucratic language the U.S. government uses in official apologies to and treaties with Native Americans, pointing to its inadequacies, hypocrisies, and the ways it is used to further inscribe its power onto Native people and their cultures,” said Barnes.

The university has seen a lineup of prominent poets reading their work to students, such as U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. With this history, some wonder where the department of education will go next with these events into the future. 

“I am the visiting poet in residence, so this is my first year organizing guest readers at UCO, though I have been involved in organizing readings elsewhere. As I understand it, the frequency of readers varies, and that has a lot to do with budget constraints. UCO has hosted some amazing poets in the past, like our National Poet Laureate and Oklahoman Joy Harjo and Ruth Lilly Fellowship and Kate Tufts Discovery Award winner Danez Smith. I hope that next year brings even more guest readers to the school because it is a wonderful opportunity for the University community to be exposed to these important artists,” Barnes said. The campus will be able to continue attending these poetry readings with different poets thanks to Barnes and the team’s work. To read Soldier’s work to prepare for the live reading, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/layli-long-soldier. For those wishing to attend the event, make sure to register before Wednesday at go.uco.edu/layli.

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