By Krystle Danuz
See the music. Hear the artwork. Great artists are known to captivate and intrigue audiences with their ability to represent ideas in ways many cannot express. On Oct. 2 and 3 the English, art and music departments are going to be on center stage that also includes a guest performance by 2008 Texas Poet Laureate, Larry D. Thomas.
The event is free of charge and open to the public.
The art department is hosting a show displaying a few of the campus’ most creative professors and guests from the area. Called a “cross-discipline arts event,” the production will combine poetry, music and visual pieces.
“It’s going to be fun,” chair of the music department, Dr. Lon W. Chaffin, said. “This is a unique event—something we’ve never tried before … that will become a regular event for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.”
Since last spring, he has been working with artists, musicians and writers to develop the event.
In the program, the title “Faraway Nearby” is described as “something (that) can be distant but remain close; foreign, but near at hand; long gone, but ever present.”
The art exhibit will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 in Hughes Recital Hall.
Immediately following, the concert will commence with a screen displaying images to illustrate music and readings, as others perform.
The reading will feature new and original poetry from three English professors: Assistant Professor Dr. Brady Peterson; Professor Dr. Cleatus Rattan; and English Chair Dr. Audell Shelburne. Musical accompaniment is composed by Chaffin and Justin Raines and performed with the assistance of special guests from New Mexico State University, Celeste Shearer, James E. Shearer and Martha Rowe.
Visual images will be provided by six art professors: College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean, Ted Barnes; Associate Professor, Helen Kwiatkowski; Professor Phil Dunham; Associate Professor John Hancock; Art Chair Hershall Seals; and Associate Professor Barbara Fontaine-White.
Serious consideration went into the creation of each piece of art. Each poem describes a scene which is brought to life by music and art.
“The objective of the series was to work from a piece of music and interpret it as a story in a nonobjective manner with a beginning, middle and an end,” Fontaine-White said. “The music I chose for inspiration was from the movie Fantasia. The colors work in harmony because they are complementary. Together the colors and shapes are meant to flow from panel to panel much as music would.”
Acting as a guest poet in the production, is Larry D. Thomas. On Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. in Hughes he will read from his latest book, Larry D. Thomas: New and Selected Poems in the Texas Poet Laureate series.
Thomas was born in West Texas and graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in English literature. He retired from the Harris County Adult Probation Department and is employed as a full-time poet.
He has poems in many distinguished national literary journals, and many of them have received esteemed awards and honors.
“I often write about the natural world, which I find to be most dynamic and fascinating,” he said. “Although much of the poetry in my published collections involves our Western heritage, which I much admire, I am not a ‘cowboy poet’ in the purest sense of the term. My poetry … is written in the mainstream literary tradition of contemporary American poetry, and when it involves the American West, (it) is ‘western’ only in setting.”
Thomas, as a third-generation Texan, finds landscape, culture and history are often an inspiration for his poetry but not all are centered on the great state.
“My collections, Amazing Grace, Where Skulls Speak Wind, and Stark Beauty are set primarily in West Texas where I was born and raised, whereas The Woodlanders and The Lighthouse Keeper are set in the Piney Woods and on Galveston Island, respectively,” he said. “I am also inspired by visual arts and properties of color and (correspondingly) a book-length collection of such work, The Skin of Light.”
Thomas finds that poetry, of all literary writing, is the most condensed form and requires near perfection. As complex as all art may be, he asks that students continue the practice.
Thomas said, “My advice to aspiring poets … is this: read (all you can) the work of accomplished poets, dead and living; study the craft of poetry and practice what you learn as if your very life depended upon it; and never, under any circumstances, stop believing in your work. Never.”