Photo Credit: Trevor Brady

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Eckerd College welcomes poets Pádraig Ó Tuama, Victoria Chang and Rooja Mohassessy for readings in April.

Pádraig Ó Tuama, an Irish poet and theologian, spoke on Thursday to Eckerd College’s Writer’s Room. Birds chirped, and a slow breeze circled around the James Center patio as eight students surrounded Ó Tuama to have coffee and tea and talk about creative writing and poetry before his reading event.

The Writer’s Room is Eckerd College’s creative writing club, a place where students gather to bounce ideas off one another and for workshops.

At a young age, Ó Tuama said he was surrounded by poetry in school, influencing the course of his life, and leading him to where he is now, a world-renowned poet, author, and podcast host.

“What stuck out the most was how soft spoken and kind he was. He was very polite and willing to talk with us and willing to listen to us, which was a delight,” said Anna Fraser, Writer’s Room member and senior double major in animal studies and theater.

As students asked questions, he answered with pieces of advice or talk about art and life rather than focusing the topic of conversation on himself, a quality that those around him seemed to appreciate. He often responded with "tell me more" to encourage the students to open up and to foster conversation creating an environment of openness.

“He’s such a cool guy, I just wanted to listen to him talk all day. He was so open and willing to talk to us,” said Madison Mathias, president of the Writer’s Room and senior creative writing major.

The students who attended got a lot out of their hourlong conversation with Ó Tuama, leaving the event inspired and encouraged.

“I really resonated with the fact that he was private about his writing life...I liked that even though he doesn’t have MFA or any ‘real qualifications’ it’s nice to know that he still found success,” Fraser said. “It’s encouraging to know that you can start later in life if you don’t have the means to start right away. It’s okay to wait.”

When asked what resonated with them, students stated that his advice on “not measuring your art only on commercial success” stuck out to them.

“I make art, and art makes me back and breaks me too,” Ó Tuama said.

Later in the evening, Ó Tuama was the first poet this year to have a reading held at Eckerd College to celebrate National Poetry Month. Students and faculty gathered at the James Center patio for the reading.

A reading by Victoria Chang will be held on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Will Raymund Theater at the Dalí Museum in downtown St. Petersburg. Rooja Mohassessy will read her work at 7 p.m. April 20 at the Visual Arts Patio at Eckerd College. For more information, check out the posters around campus or this story


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