Poetry & Prose: Marc Hudson and Melissa Fite Johnson
Each month The Writers Place brings locally and nationally known writers to present their poetry and prose in the Thomas Zvi Wilson Reading Series. In May we welcome Marc Hudson and Melissa Fite Johnson.
Tuesday, May 16th
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Central Resource Library - Carmack Community Room
Marc Hudson is a poet and an environmental writer. His first book of poems, Afterlight, received the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts Press. His previous books of poems are Journal for an Injured Son and The Disappearing Poet Blues. His Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary was published by Wordsworth Editions, Ltd. of the United Kingdom. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the Strousse Award (from Prairie Schooner), and the Allen Tate Poetry Prize (from The Sewanee Review). He taught creative writing and literature at Wabash College in Indiana for 28 years and presently lives in the Sugar Creek watershed with his wife, Helen Mundy Hudson. He is at work on a collection of essays on dwelling and the American Earth and edits a local newspaper column for the Friends of Sugar Creek.
Marc Hudson’s fourth full-length collection of poems is a meditation on water, its shaping and animating presence on our planet. In its final section, the book moves fully out into the natural world. Parenthood is a persistent theme in East of Sorrow. It brings to a close the poetic journal of his life with his son, Ian, who died in 2002 and is equally about his daughter, Alix. The personal gives way to the ecological, to a contemplation of our planet in this age that is sometimes called the Anthropocene. A reverent perspective inflects these poems. Though elegiac in places, East of Sorrow ends in praise.
Melissa Fite Johnson has been telling stories all her life. When she was a little kid, she loved sitting on her father’s lap and instructing him what to type. Back then, it was usually stories about kittens’ birthday parties. For elementary school show-and-tell, Melissa shared her narratives, which by then were about girls named Tiffany getting kidnapped. And in college, Melissa fell in love with poetry as a fluke when she took a creative writing class to study fiction.
Though her major at Pittsburg State University was English education, Melissa found herself taking as many poetry workshop classes as the creative writing students did, a practice she continued while getting her Master’s in literature. Over the years, the instructor of those courses, Laura Lee Washburn, became Melissa’s mentor and dear friend. Laura started a poetry workshop group in 2004 and asked Melissa to join. They’ve met every other Sunday at Laura’s house since. Undoubtedly, Melissa is a better writer because of their thoughtful guidance.
Melissa’s poetry has appeared in such publications as Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, The New Verse News, velvet-tail, Red Paint Hill Journal, Whale Road Review, 3Elements Review, and Broadsided Press. She has been nominated for Best of the Net, and she was the featured poet in the Fall 2015 issue of The Journal: Inspiration for the Common Good. She has been part of several Kansas Poet Laureate projects, including Wyatt Townley’s HomeWords and Caryn Mirrian-Goldberg’s blog, Kansas Time + Place. Melissa’s poems appear in numerous Kansas anthologies.
Melissa’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her second, Ghost Sign (Spartan Press, 2016) is a collaboration with fellow Southeast Kansas poets Al Ortolani, Adam Jameson, and J.T. Knoll, for which Jo McDougall wrote the introduction. Currently, Melissa is working on her thesis for a poetry emphasis through PSU.
Melissa teaches English at her old high school. She and her husband, Marc, live in Pittsburg with their dog and several chickens. Feel free to connect with her at melissafitejohnson.com.