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Writers Answer Questions About Their Poetry, Inspiration

Writers Answer Questions About Their Poetry, Inspiration

NORFOLK, Neb. – It can be reassuring to listen to authors as they read from their own works.

The Visting Writers Series, which resumed last week, demonstrates that nobody has it all figured out just yet. It was apparent the three writers who were chosen used care in choosing what selections to share with the Northeast Community College audience. 

Julie Paschold, Kelly Weber and Neil Harrison were featured during the Visiting Writers Series event, reading selections from their respective works and sometimes sharing what inspired them to write the poems. Though the topics differed considerably, they had at least one common theme – life’s experiences aren’t necessarily something to be solved.

The event, which was the first of the spring semester at Northeast, took place Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Union Coffee Shop in Union 73 on the Norfolk campus.

Harrison’s poetry collections include “In a River of Wind” (Bridge Burner’s 2000), “Into the River Canyon at Dusk” (Lone Willow 2005), “Back in the Animal Kingdom” (Pinyon Publishing 2011), “Where the Waters Take You” (Pinyon Publishing 2018, winner of a Nebraska Center or the Book Honor Award), and “For the Love of God” (Stephen F. Austin State University Press 2023).

Harrison’s selections primarily covered three dogs, all of whom were given to him as gifts. Gypsy, Smokey and Happy were German Shorthaired dogs who demonstrated their intelligence and loyalty through a range of topics, including putting a roof on a shed and taking a dog on a walk along a bike and walking trail.

Weber is the author of “We are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place” (Tupelo Press 2022) and “You Bury the Birds in my Pelvis,” winner of the 2022 Omnidawn First/Second Book Prize. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Colorado State University.

Weber read about topics that included asexuality and nonbinary identity. It was a mature audience, with college students to senior citizens present.

Paschold identifies as a queer, disabled poet/artist from Nebraska. Paschold has two degrees in agronomy, was a semifinalist for the Kate Sommers Memorial Prize and was twice given honorable mention in Writer’s Digest chapbook contests. 

She read from her recently released book, “Horizons.” She was asked about the difficulties writing poetry. Paschold said the more personal the poetry is or the more sensitive the material, the more difficult it can be to write.

The writers were asked if they use poetry to promote themselves. In general, the writers said they want their writing to be relatable, but sometimes they just write the poetry and then they will go through it again later. Nevertheless, they want their work to convey the emotions and preciseness they felt when they wrote it.

The Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the Northeast Community College English Department. All events are free and open to the public.

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Following their talks (from left), Neil Harrison, Kelly Weber and Julie Paschold answered questions from the audience during the latest Visiting Writers Series at Northeast Community College. (Northeast Community College)