English Professor Releases Fourth Book

Students, faculty and community members gathered at the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art Feb. 7 to celebrate professor Jacqueline Lyons’ newest publication, “Adorable Airport.”

The collection of poems, inspired by a tiny airport in Pullman, Washington, is the California Lutheran University English professor’s fifth published work and fourth book of poetry.

The art gallery hosted a reception and live reading by the author of several poems from “Adorable Airport.” In addition to light refreshments, guests were encouraged to enjoy the current display of contemporary artwork in the gallery before the reading. The exhibit, called “Traces,” features a collection of repaired artwork and the opportunity to view the works under UV light to see chemical traces of their restorations, which highlighted Lyons’ poetic themes of transformation.

Junior Julia Garcia, one of Lyons’ former students, said Lyons was one of her favorite professors and attended the reading to support her and learn more about poetry. Garcia said she intends to take a poetry class from Lyons next year.

“Dr. Lyons has really inspired me and developed my keen interest in creative writing,” Garcia said.

Students currently enrolled in Lyons’ critical reading and writing class were required to attend the reading and encouraged to take note of the event using all five senses as an observational writing exercise, first-year Samantha Vasquez said.

The book of free-verse poetry is separated into four sections, each inspired by a season, and focuses on motifs of flight and growth. While Lyons does not adhere to a specific meter or form when writing her poems, she said she does consider the rhythm and sound of her poetry as it is read aloud.

Lyons said she wrote ‘Adorable Airport’ over the course of several years, as she was experiencing many life changes. After finishing graduate school and beginning her career, Lyons said she moved to four different states over the course of ten years before eventually settling in Thousand Oaks.

Lyons said during this time, she also felt like she was growing a lot internally.

“It was a long process, some of these poems I started writing quite a while ago. Most of them have been published individually in different journals and it’s nice to see the whole collection come together,” Lyons said.

Rachel Schmid, curator of collections and exhibitions at Cal Lutheran, works to bring events to the public gallery that highlight the connection between visual and spoken art. Exhibits are always free and change five times per year, often with input from faculty who would like to tie art into their lessons.

Other events hosted by the gallery include concerts, lectures, live painting demonstrations and an annual slam poetry event in April.

“Poetry readings always bring our most diverse audience,” Schmid said.

Lyons has previously hosted one other reading of her own work in the gallery and works regularly with Schmid to host guest writers to speak on campus.

The “Traces” exhibit will remain in the gallery until Feb. 21. It will be removed to make way for a solo exhibition of Rigoberto Alonso Gonzalez murals.

Viewer discretion is advised for the next exhibit, entitled “Pathos Along a Contemporary Frontier,” which depicts images of violence along the Southern United States-Mexico border.

Schmid said she intends to host additional artisan speakers during the duration of the next exhibit, which will be unveiled Feb. 28.

Katherine Lippert