National Poetry Month features former CLU professor Higgins

Higgins+stands+at+the+podium+sharing+a+poem+at+the+National+Poetry+Celebration+on+Tuesday+April+4th.+

Photo by Ashley Cope - Reporter

Higgins stands at the podium sharing a poem at the National Poetry Celebration on Tuesday April 4th.

Ashley Cope, Reporter

The lights are dim in the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art as the room welcomed professor Emeritus of Art, Larkin Higgins, to read her poetry in honor of National Poetry month on April 5, 2022. 

Higgins was a professor of the arts for California Lutheran University for 35 years before retiring in May of 2020, during the pandemic. Emotions were high for her at this event, as it was her first time back on campus for an event since retiring. 

“I got emotional because I’ve shared my art and as a professor to move from rank to rank you need to exhibit your work and publish your work. And that was usually linked in with the visual arts department,” Higgins said.

Higgins said it was a little emotional to finally share her poetry at an advertised poetry reading on campus.

“Occasionally I’d be asked as a visitor to somebody in the English Department to talk about art and poetry but not in an official poetry reading even though I’ve been simultaneously doing both.”

This event was put on by English Professor Jacqueline Lyons. 

Higgins read 10 different poems at this event featuring a wide variety of topics from pumpkins to geometry to Wassily Kandinsky’s composition number five. Through these poems the audience gets an insider view on Higgins life, and different influential events in her life. 

Between each poem, the audience took a moment to clap, snap, and take photos of Higgins at the podium. 

“The cadence and rhythm in the way someone speaks, even when she told the poem about someone Wassily Kandinsky and how someone can become infatuated and how someone could look at artwork as very sensual alot of that could only be understood through the way she spoke the words,” Rachel Schimd, the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions said. 

The visuals in her poetry are just as important as the auditory. Many of her poems read at this event had designs made out of lines. One of her poems had the title of a design of a geometric box. Before reading this piece she held it in front of the audience to show the title of the poem. This poem was published in Eleven Eleven literary magazine. 

“Language is this visual thing. I do have poems like peripatetic L where the L travels and the L sound travels. Sound and visual and having an open field of the poems page is really important. It doesn’t all have to be flush left or dragged right,” Higgins said. 

Higgins said both of her parents were artist. She said her father had a high impact on her art, and was a big part of her life.

“Making art was part of our weekly thing. You eat, you make art, you go to school. It’s just part of it,” Higgins said. 

Higgins work has been published in Diagram, Notre Dame Review, Eleven Eleven, Otoliths, Chant de la Sirène Journal, and many more. She also has two poetry books “Of Materials, Implements” and “C o m b – i n g  m i n e – i n g s.” 

After the event there was a Q&A for the audience members to ask questions to Higgins about the work she read, and how to begin writing poetry. She said one of the tips she never thought she would say is to read “Poetry for Dummies” because it includes all different types of poetry. 

This event also was the last event that the Common Ground- Artist Reimagining Community art exhibit would be open at the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Arts. They will now begin transitioning to host the Senior art show.