By Josie Shaw
On Monday, Sept. 26, poet Nickole Brown visited UM as a part of the UM BACHE Visiting Writer Series. This is the first in-person event of this series at UM since February 2020.
English professor Dr. Ashley Wurzbacher began the event by highlighting the importance of the Visiting Writer Series and bringing artists to our campus, saying that hearing authors speak allows listeners to learn more about them as people and their connection to their work.
Wurzbacher continued, “I think there’s something really exhilarating and beautiful about being a part of an audience at a poetry reading because, you know, you’re not only really picking up on these little nuances in the work that you might not notice when you look at it on the page, you’re enjoying the cadences and the rhythm’s and the music of the language in a way that you don’t always do when you’re eyes are scanning over the page. ”
While Brown is from Kentucky, she studied literature at Vermont College and Oxford University. Her southern roots are evident in her poetry, as she began writing about her deeply southern cultured family with “Sister “in 2007 and “Fanny Says” in 2015.
Brown previously visited UM in 2015 to promote “Fanny Says” as a part of the Montevallo Literary Festival. As a dedication to this previous event, she opened recent poetry reading by revising a story from “Fanny Says” titled “F***.”
Brown said, “This book is about my grandmother, the grandmother who raised me, and her name was Fanny.”
“Telling the story of her life was really difficult because she was this woman of contraries and she cussed like a soldier,” said Brown.
Since 2016, both her personal work and writing work has been focused on environmental protection efforts. She has volunteered her free time to working at local animal sanctuaries.
Her two most recent works, “The Donkey in Elegies” and “To Those Who Were Our First Gods,” reflect on human activity as the dominant force onto the earth in our current biological age.
Brown said, “This is why when biologist E.O. Wilson proffered an alternate name for this new epoch, not the Anthropocene, but the Eremozoic. Zoic, meaning life, and Eremos, meaning lonely, uninhabited, desolate.”
“The age of loneliness,” said Brown.
Themes of loneliness were continually echoed throughout the reading by Nickole by acknowledging how nice it is to be off Zoom and in person at a poetry reading.
“That silence that I fear the most. That time where I might step outside and not hear insect song,” Brown continued.
Brown’s reading was made possible by The Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education.
BACHE is a collaboration that began in 1996 between 5 Birmingham area universities: University of Montevallo, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, Miles College and Birmingham-Southern College.
BACHE’s recent joint effort is the Visiting Writers Series, which brings 3 authors to each college annually. BACHE also provides students at these universities to participate in a course exchange between campuses.
Josie Shaw is the managing editor of production The Alabamian. She is majoring in mass communication. She enjoys activism and music, and hopes to build a blend of both throughout career.