Birds, water and ice are on the agenda for the evening.
Poet, novelist and editor Katharine Coles, 53, of Salt Lake City, will do a reading at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Special Collections room in the Stewart Library on the Weber State University campus.
The event is free to the public. Several of Coles’ books will be available for sale at the event and also in the WSU Bookstore.
Coles, who grew up in Utah and is the past poet laureate for the state, addresses the importance of nature and science in people’s lives.
Coles’ visit is part of the campus-wide, yearlong program called “Water Works.” Several guest speakers, from artists to explorers, are coming to WSU this school year — all addressing a water theme. (Go to http://weber.edu/waterworks/ for more details.)
“I’ll be reading quite a lot of the Antarctica poems, because where I was in Antarctica was pretty much all water and ice,” Coles said.
She spent a month in 2010 living on the science station in Antarctica, thanks to the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.
“Going to Antarctica is one of the greatest adventures you can have without leaving the planet,” she said. “It’s that inspirational.”
Her poem “Tempo for a Winged Instrument” is about the birds in Antarctica. “There is a lot of light in the poem,” Coles said. “It was light all the time there. And there are no land animals in Antarctica – only birds and creatures of the water.”
Coles is the immediate past poet laureate of Utah. “It’s a pretty prestigious award. It validated the quality of poetry we have in Utah,” said David Pace, Literary Arts and Arts Education Specialist for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.
Coles has written several collections of poems, including “The Golden Years of the Fourth Dimension,” “A History of the Garden” and “The One Right Touch.” She has also published two novels: “The Measurable World” and “Fire Season.”
Some of Coles’ poems are simply about her dogs. “Elegy for a Dog Larger Than Life,” is about her husband’s dog, Andre, a Newfoundland mix with some Labrador thrown in. Andre had serious health problems and almost died on Christmas Day. Coles said she wrote the poem while they were waiting at the animal hospital and she thought the dog was dying. Andre actually lived another couple of years.
Another dog poem, “The Double Leash,” is about Coles walking her two dogs, who have since passed away: Quigley, a golden retriever, and Cleo, a border collie/Australian shepherd mix. “They were my constant companions for many years,” she said. “I used to run with them and we were together all the time.”
The Andra Collection
Coles’ writings are part of the Carl E. Andra Memorial Collection, which was started in the Weber State Library Special Collections in 1977 by Jean Andra (now Jean Andra Miller) in memory of her first husband, the late Carl E. Andra, who was an assistant professor of English at WSU from 1965 until he died.
The collection emphasizes his favorite aspect of contemporary American and English literature of the 20th century.
The collection houses approximately 1,500 volumes. It contains many works that are first editions, or signed by the authors, as well as works of rare or collectible importance.
“My absolute favorite piece is the signed Ernest Hemingway: ‘Men Without Women,’ ” said Sarah Langsdon, associate curator of special collections at WSU Stewart Library. “It’s a very valuable piece — and an interesting piece of Americana.”
The endowment for the Andra Collection, completed in 2011, specified that poetry readings be offered from time to time to draw attention to the collection’s existence and importance to the campus and community. It was agreed that poets of regional, state, or local importance be featured.
Coles is a professor of English at the University of Utah. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, a master’s degree at the University of Houston and a doctorate at the University of Utah.
She has also received a fellowship and a New Forms Project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; a PEN New Writer’s Award; and grants from the Utah Arts Council and the Salt Lake City Arts Council.
Go to www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/katharine-coles#about to read selected Coles works.
WHO: Poet Katharine Coles
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4
WHERE: Hetzel-Hoellein Room (Special Collections), Stewart Library, Weber State University campus, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden