English 301 Anthology — Contributing Poets

Meet the eight undergraduate poets of Beth Ann Fennelly’s Honors English 301 poetry workshop! These eight poets, all juniors and seniors within the Honors College, have spent this fall semester creating poetry portfolios through in-class workshops and multiple sets of outside revision. Each portfolio contains five to six unique poems, each of which highlights the poet’s individual voice, style, and life experiences.

“It was such a joy to teach these eight fierce poets! They all were invested in helping each other and together we created a very supportive community. Community is important in every class, but especially so in a writing workshop where the students must embrace vulnerability in order to write the risky poem, the hard poem. I’m so proud of them and their work,” Professor Beth Ann Fennelly said of her class.

The poets of Honors English 301 will be giving a reading from their portfolios at 6:00 PM Wednesday, December 6th at Cups on Jackson Avenue. All are welcome to attend, and be sure to check out the featured poems below!

Congratulations to these students on their work!

Batucada a Paraty
Aby Thorpe

Loose samba bands host groups of foreign natives
in the crowded, cobblestone streets of Paraty, Brasil.
Natives of the praia lead us with their tamborins and agoga bells,
interpreting Brasilian Samba classics. 
Women, half sober off caipirinha de maracujá,
lure men in with a roll of their hips through the instrumentals,
and as I shimmy through I practice with a roll of my own.
Street carts packed with brigadeiro and coconut cornbread
treat the crowd and myself as we saunter toward the core of the festival,
and the closer we get to the loosely mapped square,
the fuller is the snare of the drums and eager rattle of chocalho,  
making the blue-green beads rattle between our breasts
as we come face to colorful face with the batucada rhythm
and I step into the yolk of this carnival merriment.

Our hips now resound the sacred Afro-Brasilian soul 
and origins of ancient dance drama. 
Our samba is a wave of the hips on an ocean, 
a quick race between our feet on the ground,
holding the hands of these dark skinned women and those of our ancestors 
letting the batucada energy flow naturally into our feet, into our rolling shoulders, 
out in the form of laughter between full red lips 

and toward the darkened sky, exploding into clear stars
in the undiluted island night of Paraty, Brasil.

Alex Robison

In this crowded bar where we once met,
I feel entirely alone.

The music is provoking,
Much like the siren’s call you used to lure me in

that August night when we caught eyes
and you asked for a dance.

I remember the line that left my lips,
It actually tasted very similar to the well bourbon I now drink;

It being the kind of shit you only find in a college bar full of minors
in a little Mississippi town. 

I’m still not sure if it was me or the alcohol who said
“You’re too pretty to dance with me”

but I can tell you that it feels like a brick on my chest 
that I missed that chance and I am drowning,

drowning in the world of of what-ifs
and why-not’s that alcohol causes.

My life is now controlled by the things sold here,
I count the drinks one, two, three, then twelve.

I’m stuck to this stool like gum to a shoe sole,
and your hand giving another chance for a dance 

is the only thing that could scrape me off.
Aware that will never come I just wait,

praying to whatever God you do
that you would be the next to walk through the door.

Until that day comes this is where Ill be as
I dive to the bottom of this bottle.


Young Girl Survives Hurricane Floods”
Bethany Fitts

Last week Mommy 
bought a toy rubber-duck 
to float with me
in the bathtub 
“so you don’t get 
lonely,” she said.
And I think that’s why 
	Mommy floats with me 
now although rubber ducks 
are yellow not blue 
like the arms that hold me 
above ice-water that smells
like the day my dog
knocked over the trash can
and Mommy came home
and yelled, “It smells
	like someone died 
in here!” And I asked 
if died has a smell,
and she looked 
at me funny and 
didn’t answer, but
now she won’t look 
at me even though
	I keep trying 
to get her to look at me
but I don’t think
she’s awake right now
which is strange 
because her eyes
are open, looking 
at the sky
the way they sometimes do 
when she is praying.

Main Street in Winter
Conor Hultman

The store doors are closed
against the veilstorm of snow
that contours Main Street.
Through a fogged glass,
mink stoles dream of limbs,
darkly. Vacuums converge.
The clouds sag and snag
like old pincushions, 
their bellies the color of wet ink.
The buildings sing
a choirsong sublime,
as the day shimmers into night,
until the last blue is kissed white.
Snowflakes appraise each other 
as old school friends.

You Are the Coffee
Jacob Ferguson

This diner is not a diner.
The metal tabletops are a little 
too shiny, the light fixtures 
too modern and chic.
The floor is hardwood laminate.
The servers wear poodle skirts
and use iPhones to swipe debit cards.
It serves mimosas 
and coffee past midnight.
Imagine: coffee and mimosas at 2 AM.

A neon sign glows in the window,
casting a blue shadow across your face.
At the table beside us, 
a girl leaves a red lipstick stain on her mug.
You sip water from a mason jar and ask 
if I believe that bad things
happen to good people 
because they are good enough
not to hate the universe.

Tonight is coffee at 2 AM—bitter 
sweet, a rush of energy and fatigue.
The only item checked off my to-do list:
“make to-do list.”
The only item checked off your to-do list:
“stop making to-do lists.”
My eyelids are heavy
with the weight of the hour
and talk on the pros and cons of pancakes 
and waffles and their assorted toppings.
Behind the too-shiny countertop,
a waiter empties the pot,
begins a fresh brew.

This diner is not a diner,
but the coffee is good.
I need to sleep, 
but I think 
another cup 
will do.

You were the coffee
Jake Thrasher

Two weeks spent 
sitting on the counter–
the room temperature, shit-colored liquid
leaves coffee rings on my Cherrywood counter. 

I wanted to binge watch late night movies
blanket snuggled,
lips locked
On the rim of the mug
keeping me awake.

I thought I wanted that cup,
but even when fresh the brew was repulsive,
stinging my throat as I swallowed.
Every sip I had to chase
with a shot of cheap vodka.

Now it sits
growing a layer of grey-green
mold that ferments the bitterness 
Becoming alcoholic by consequence.

I couldn’t get drunk off this accidental lager.
It’s not champagne at the wedding.
It’s not the blood of Christ.
It’s not even a corona by the lake.

Mississippi Halloween
Jaz Brisack

It's getting nippy in Mississippi.
The mercury plummets to sixty-eight.
With golden leaves, the streets become slipp'ry;
Cedar smoke curls from each chimney's clean grate.
In every church parking lot: “Trunk or Treat.”
Chocolate melts in your hands, not your mouth.
Bars release revelers into the street:
Polo-shirt frat boys, the “pride of the South,”
And high-heeled kitty cats pass pumpkin'd homes
Of forgotten petty bourgeois planters,
Snagging their fishnets, sipping Styrofoam
Cups of beer — the derelicts' decanters.
Around the fire, while marshmallows roast,
You're regaled with legends of Faulkner's ghost.

Malerie Lovejoy

Her bars are iron. Her eyes are gold
weights, staring out, our shared loneliness
in captivity, mirrored in my sad smile.

The tiger rears back, terror in her eyes,
reflecting how she must feel, how I feel,
trapped in her cage for spectators.

Freedom is something she has not
felt in so long that she has forgotten
what it tastes like – the hunt, the kill,

a different scent in the air. This prey 
could be for her, instead of on her.
I release the iron and abandon her gold.

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