Lyrical constructions such as “trinket praise as teeny blade” and “speeding bullet Skittles-hued Cross Trainers” render a beautifully crisp picture in the reader’s mind.
Poet Marcus Wicker has established himself as a cutting-edge talent in modern literature built on the imagery he so carefully crafts.
But it was his interest in the way words sound that first drew him towards writing.
“Early nineties hip hop, symphonic and jazz band, mom and dad’s Curtis Mayfield and Frankie Beverly records — my love for poetry began in direct response to a pretty good soundtrack,” he said. “That is to say, before anything else I was interested in sound, and working those sounds out on the page.”
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Wicker will help launch “The Future is Now: Indiana Creative Writers Read,” a special literature program organized by Franklin College. He will be featured during a reading at 7 p.m. today in Richardson Chapel.
He is a visiting professor at Michigan State University and will read some of his poetry published in works from his debut collection, “Maybe the Saddest Thing.” His poems have been included in Boston Review, Oxford American, American Poetry Review and many other magazines.
“The Future is Now” is series of book readings and literature-related events designed to raise awareness and change perception of modern writing. The series will also feature journalists Tom and Kelley French on Nov. 3 and novelist Cathy Day on March 2.
In advance of tonight’s reading, Wicker shared some of his process and mindset behind poetry.
How do you create the stunning imagery that your poems contain?
These days my poems happen in motion. Often I get ideas during a slow jog, driving to teach or pacing around the kitchen while cooking.
How does poetry allow you to express yourself?
So much of our day-to-day lives are about chatter: filling free moments clicking away at cell phones or having longwinded conversations about work, after work, during after-work obligations, all to stay connected. For me, the act of publishing a poem is about sharing a connection with a stranger over a small joke or serious thing I’ve been working up to say over the past however many months. Except that connection happens within the span of three minutes while I’m elsewhere. I dig the concision and compression of language poetry requires, as well as its built-in capacity for openness.
What did “Maybe the Saddest Thing” try to capture?
“Maybe the Saddest Thing” refers to a speaker’s obsessive impulse and willingness to interrogate everything. “Everything,” in this case, constitutes poems which ask, “In observing the world have I forgotten how to live in it?”; likewise, poems tackling masculinity, popular culture, identity and desire. The saddest things (a bit tongue in cheek) are the speaker’s cyclical fixations.
What is your approach on your forthcoming book, Silencer, compared to Maybe the Saddest Thing?
Silencer is a book composed of arguments: for a diglossic poetry — the convergence of high and low diction, as well as pop culture and the political; for faith in the face of an agnostic academia, but ambivalent about religion. Many of the poems in “Maybe the Saddest Things” are narrative while “Silencer” is primarily invested in lyric energy.
What did you realize about trying to become a writer and poet that you hadn’t considered when you started?
That poetry isn’t always about the immediate. That there are poems I’m not yet ready to write but will be one day as long as I continue to stretch myself and grow. I’ve learned that poetry is all about the long game. And I’m thankful for that.
What advice would you give young writers hoping to make that a career?
Read widely and as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to revise aggressively. Enjoy yourself. Repeat.
“The Future is Now: Indiana Creative Writers Read”
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Richardson Chapel, corner of Monroe and Forsythe streets, Franklin College campus
- Journalists Tom and Kelley French, 7 p.m. Nov. 3; Tom French is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the Riley Endowed Chair in journalism at Indiana University. Kelley French is a professor of practice in journalism at Indiana University and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.
- Novelist Cathy Day, 7 p.m., March 2; Day is the author of “The Circus in Winter” and “Comeback Season.”