The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Elinam Agbo & Glorious Piner speak at Fiction and Poetry Reading

Award-winning writers Glorious Piner, Bucknell’s current poet resident, and Elinam Agbo, a new Creative Writing professor, took the stage on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 12 to showcase their creative talents. They were introduced by Associate English Professor and “West Branch” Editor Joe Scapellato to the attendees in Bucknell Hall.

Piner, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland whose work has been featured in publications like “The American Poetry Review,” stepped into the spotlight first, showcasing a number of poems spanning several years of work. She began with “A Series of Portraits,” which, true to its name, consists of a series of abstract poems mirroring a prose-like structure, each focused on a concrete object or phenomenon.

The poems are, in her words, an “angular exploration” of the “movement between words.” Piner emphasized the associative nature of the poems’ flow and acknowledged that many of her works begin with one subject (ranging from chickens to faces to birds to cocaine) and end with an entirely different, unpredictable one. Each portrait combines elements of contemporary social issues with everything from European history to Greek mythology to Biblical allusion. Often, Piner recontextualized traditional Eurocentric religious staples like the idea of “the word” into a modernized framework. 

Following the portraits was the reading of a collection of shorter poems Piner has been working on following her arrival at Bucknell. Self-described as a series rooted in “romanticism,” Piner chose to focus these poems on more abstract, nature-based subject matter, reflecting an approach similar to that of previous Bucknell poet in residence Mary Oliver (1985-86). Piner lent her own personal touch to these poems; she relates wildlife to the human condition, often placing “peaceful” and “natural” creatures or settings into sharp contrast with the reality of damaging human intervention. One such intervention positions a small bird, helpless, against a storm drain—a striking mental image that reinforces the overarching thematic grapple with death that Piner weaves throughout the entirety of her works.

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Next to the podium was 2021-23 Kenyan Review Fellow and University of Michigan graduate, Elinam Agbo. Born in Ghana and raised in Kansas, Agbo has gathered a wide range of inspiration and experience that she incorporates into her work. She harbors interest in fiction of many kinds, including transnational and African diasporic literature, as well as coming-of-age narratives. Agbo is currently in the process of crafting stories and novels that fit into several of those categories. 

Agbo presented the audience with one of her short stories, entitled “Sorry for Your Loss” and originally published in 2020 in the ninth issue of “The New Territory.” The story deals with themes of grief, loss and death, and explores how those feelings af fectemotions, worldviews and even settings. One can argue that “Sorry for Your Loss” is a ghost story committed to the exploration of the space a ghost occupies when there is no real ghost to hold on to. The story also touches on the more isolating realities of immigration and assimilation, presenting Agbo’s talents and her ability to merge multiple complicated subjects into one compact, meaningful read. 

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Lyndon Beier
Lyndon Beier, Assistant News Editor

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