On Thursday, Nov. 8, critically acclaimed poet Adam Clay spoke at Belmont University about his most recent publication, A Hotel Lobby at the End of the World, as part of a new annual reader series put on by the Department of English. The series is the brainchild of Dr. Gary McDowell, a poetry and creative writing professor who attended the same graduate program as Clay.
Titled “The Deep Song Reading Series,” the goal of the series is to bring working writers onto Belmont’s campus. “We forget that poetry is still be written today, and people don’t get to hear [it],” said McDowell. McDowell himself has published several poems, and he hopes to encourage students who have an interest in all forms of writing.
In the spring, poets will be brought in during the month of April, which is recognized as National Poetry Month. Ideally, says McDowell, two to three poets will come to speak during that month alone. While this year the speaker list will be comprised entirely of poets, he says that the series is not strictly a poetry series. “I’m not at all opposed to having fiction writers here in the future—I would love to,” said McDowell. “This is just how it turned out this year. I’m a poet, so I happen to know more poets.”
Though this year’s series is not centered on any theme, next year McDowell hopes to focus around Nashville and Tennessee writers and already has a few speakers in mind. When selecting speakers, McDowell looks for those who have published recently and for a wide range of representation. “I want diversity, and people who are promoting new work,” he explained.
McDowell said that he is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to do this with the full support of English department, and he is looking forward to growing the series in the future.