Tim Seibles strives to build poetry fans with his readings

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | 6:55 p.m. CDT; updated 11:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 16, 2008

COLUMBIA — Tim Seibles has invented narrative and written prose since childhood, but he didn't come to fully identify as a poet until college. While attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Seibles went to a workshop held by then-faculty member and poet Michael Ryan. Ryan read poetry that did more than leave a passing impression on Seibles — it "knocked him out."

"The potential for doing wild and imaginative things just overwhelmed me," Seibles said.

If you go

WHAT: Poet Tim Seibles reads from his work, presented by MU's Center for the Literary Arts

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union South, Hitt Street and the east end of Lowry Mall, MU



Ibtisam Barakat: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Jesse Wrench Auditorium

Rodger Kamentez: lecture, 4 p.m. Oct. 22, 104 Tate Hall; reading, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, 106 Pickard Hall

Moira Crone: reading, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, 106 Pickard Hall; lecture, 4 p.m. Oct. 24, 104 Tate Hall

Richard Rodriguez: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Reynolds Alumni Center

Benjamin Michael Percy: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5, Reynolds Alumni Center

Sedio Ray Ronci: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19, location to be announced

William Least Heat-Moon: 7 p.m. March 5, Ellis Library

Lisa Russ Spaar and Kimberly Johnson: 7:30 p.m. April 1, location to be announced



Now, as an associate professor of English at Old Dominion University and the author of six books of poetry, Seibles has a similar opportunity to affect college students and communities through readings. He said he enjoys visiting universities and cultural centers to share poetry and possibly surprise his audiences.

On his first trip to MU, Seibles will read some of his work on Thursday as part of a fall series presented by the Center for the Literary Arts.

Seibles acknowledges he can do more with a poem now than he could 10 years ago, owing to time and development of skill with language, but he still maintains a similar sense of style and continuity from book to book. The subjects of his poems and his inspirations for them draw largely from childhood memories, politics, romance and sexuality, said Seibles.

"He writes about matters of race and contemporary life in the world with compassion, generosity and compelling humor," said Scott Cairns, director of the Center for the Literary Arts at MU and a former colleague of his at Old Dominion.

His reading will include work from latest book, "Buffalo Solos," as well as older poems and new material inspired by memories of teenage years.

For Seibles, he said, readings ultimately provide the chance to engage poetry lovers but also those who might not be avid fans.

"I hope that people come away from my readings realizing that poetry is more than they thought it was," Seibles said.

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