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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Critically Acclaimed Write Cyrus Cassells Visits Marshall

Critically acclaimed writer, translator and poet Cyrus Cassells was the featured guest for the first reading in the A.E. Writer’s Series of the year on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The series was founded in 1989 by Art Stringer, a former English professor of Marshall University. Bringing in six to eight writers every year, event coordinator Sara Henning said having writers visit Marshall’s campus creates an environment that encourages creativity and learning in students.

“Not only can a student fall in love with a writer’s words from afar, they can come to understand the flesh and blood of the person who created them,” Henning said.

Cyrus Cassells is a Black LGBTQ poet born in Delaware but raised in the Mojave Desert in Texas. Cassells has worn many hats, including actor, film critic and teacher. His work primarily tackles themes of identity, religion/spirituality and human rights issues in his various travels. His work is punctuated by his personal experiences throughout his career, as well as the individuals he encounters.

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During his visit to Marshall University, Cassells shared excerpts from his publications, including his new book, “Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch?” and his translation of Salvador Espriu’s poetry titled, “To The Cypress Again and Again: Tribute to Salvador Espriu.” Between readings, Cassells discussed where he was during the creation of his books.

When he was translating the work of Espriu, his mentor informed him she believed Espriu was going to pass away soon. She told Cassells he needed to visit him in Spain before he passed, which he did during his last few days on his trip. After their meeting, Espriu died four months later.

“I only saw him in the last couple days I was there, so there was that kind of weird pressure. I think my translation story is the most dramatic one I’ve heard, actually,” Cassells said. “And then, he did die. So, I gave him the translations, and he said to me that he thought the English translations were the best ones.”

Ash Williams, the student appointed to introduce Cassells at the beginning of the reading, said, while nerve racking, it felt right to announce someone with so many similarities in terms of identity and being a fellow poet.

“I think poetry for me is definitely about being able to connect with people kind of like how we used to, you know, tell our stories by word of mouth. I feel like poetry is, in a way, a little more accessible,” Williams said.

Cassells said he’s always had a passion for writing ever since he was a child. He has involved himself in the arts since then, even in terms of his acting career. Cassells said he has memories of wanting to add his own novel to the Encyclopedia Britannica some day.

“I remember being a child and thinking I was waiting… waiting for someone to give me permission to write… I’ve only wanted to be a writer and an actor my whole life,” Cassells said. “I’ve never wavered from the other people that go through a process, and, for me, it’s been unwavering.”

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