Demanding and all around us: Poetry with Jim Ferris

Jim Ferris, named the second Lucas County poet laureate, believes in the power of poetry. A word that brings mixed reaction and experience, poetry is not all rhyme and meter. Sure, those are elements, but according to the county’s ranking poetry official,
“poetry is an experience.”

Holding The Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, Dr. Ferris is privy to a unique worldview. He’s made a career of advocating for and studying disability: as president of the Society for Disability Studies, starting first-of-their-kind programs at universities, publishing essays and poems. Ferris shares his perspective candidly and with precision.

Poetic demands

“Poetry is a demanding art and is around us all the time,” Ferris said. “People can find poetry off-putting but there are lots of ways in. I think of a poem as an experience. As the poet, I shape experience for myself and for the readers and audience, fully aware that they bring themselves to the experience. That’s part of the richness of it. Our responsibility as artists is to craft the experience, but to recognize that people are going to bring themselves to the experience.”

Poetry brings people together. It gives voice to those willing to whittle the words and share.

“Poems are not so much created as co-created, they’re made in community with the audience,” Ferris said. “The work of art moment is when reader meets poem, poem meets reader.”

An embodied thing

With a background in the performing arts, Ferris has been bringing people together for years, in various formats across the US, Canada, and Great Britain.

“I hope that my poems work for the solitary reader with a book as well as the performance setting. One of the great moves poetry has made in the last 40 years has been a move back to the embodied,” said Ferris, referring to the rise of performance poetry “It’s an important reminder of how poetry works. We could subsist entirely on meals we get through intravenous infusions of glucose and other stuff, but I don’t think we’d enjoy it a hell of a lot. Poetry, to be full, has to be an embodied thing.”

Living, breathing, embodied. Poetry is alive in Lucas County and waiting for you to experience it. Jim Ferris has three books out, Slouching Towards Guantanamo (2011, Main Street Rag), Facts of Life (2005, Parallel Press), and The Hospital Poems (2004, Main Street Rag), and three more in the works, including full-length collections of poetry and nonfiction.

Learn from accomplished poet

during, Poetry Speaks: A Poetry Writing Writing Workshop featuring Jim Ferris (registration is required): 6:30-8:30pm. Wednesday, November 1.

Waterville Branch Library Meeting Room A
800 Michigan Ave. | 419-878-3055

Recent Articles