Marshall University Hosts Allison Joseph for A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series

Abigail Cutlip, Student Reporter

Writer’s block isn’t real, according to a poet who, to celebrate Black History Month, gave a reading of some of her poetry works for the Marshall community. 

With writer’s block, you are only blocked with that subject and the solution is to step away, write about something new and then return to what “blocked” you at a later time, said Allison Joseph, director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Southern Illinois University.

She was hosted by the Marshall University A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Shawkey Dining Room of the Memorial Student Center.

“It’s a delight and an honor to bring Allison Joseph to Marshall,” Dr. Rachael Peckham, a Marshall English professor, said.

“I was lucky enough to see her read years ago when I was in college,” Peckham said. “The experience never left me. She encircles some tender truths about race, gender, love and loss, in portraits and scenes that are intimately and powerfully rendered.”

Joseph read a total of 15 poems, including one written by her late husband and fellow poet, Jon Tribble.

Joseph opened the event by reciting her husband’s poem and discussing her thoughts on a wife’s task. She said that though many wives’ task is to get their husband to take out the trash; hers was to “keep him a poet.”

She discussed her book, “Confessions of a Bare-Faced Woman,” and how it relates to a woman’s idea of beauty and beauty standards.

Though many of the poems she read discussed being a woman, others were more simple in nature. She said that sometimes a topic is just handed to her, and she can’t ignore it. One of these topics was what inspired her poem “I Love You, Jimmy Poquette.”

Joseph said that she had received a dollar that had “I Love You, Jimmy Poquette” written on it, and she simply decided to write a poem speculating about who Jimmy Poquette is and ho could have written it.

When asked how she gets around being labeled a “women poet” or a “Black poet,” Joseph said she will write about whatever she wants, but it will always come from those perspectives.

“Everything I write is a Black poem, but not everything speaks to Black issues,” Joseph said.

Her interest in poetry was originally cultivated by her interest in language, she said, adding that “we are all multilingual even if we speak only one language.”