A virtual unveiling of “South Dakota in Poems” will give the 90 authors a chance to read their work in one of three online sessions, according to South Dakota Poet Laureate Christine Stewart, who compiled the anthology.
The first two sessions—Oct. 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Oct. 20, noon to 2 p.m.—will be part of the Virtual 2020 South Dakota Festival of Books. Those who wish to listen to these readings should register for free general admission to the festival at http://sdhumanities.org/festival-of-books/tickets/. Following registration, they will receive further instructions.
The final poetry reading will be Nov. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. More details about this session will be shared as the event gets closer.
Most of the poems were written in the last 10 years, said Stewart, who is also a South Dakota State University English professor. “They speak to the history, families and ancestry but they are told from a contemporary view of life.”
Recordings of the authors reading their poems will also be available on the South Dakota Poetry Society website. The anthology is available for purchase at sdpoetry.org.
When Stewart called for submissions last year, she said, “I assumed there were a lot of dabblers who write poetry that need to be drawn out—that is one of my roles (as poet laureate).” However, she was surprised to receive several hundred submissions.
“There were lots of people whose names I did not know, especially people who grew up here and are living in other states but still writing about home,” Stewart explained.
One of the 100 poems in the anthology is by Dr. Melvin Thomas, a physician and SDSU alumnus who died Sept. 11. 2020. His obituary states how honored he was to have his poetry published. “He had an amazing career as a medical doctor, but his writing was important—that speaks to the power of art in people’s lives,” Stewart said.
She plans to use the anthology to promote poetry across the state and to create more opportunities for writers to connect. “I made this to use for years to come,” she added.
Furthermore, one of the unique aspects of the anthology is that “these poems were gathered right before COVID-19 started rippling across the state,” said Stewart, pointing out that the anthology may have a longer impact culturally because it captures how people saw the world before the pandemic. “People might write about these things differently now,” she added.