On Wednesday, March 13, poet Ryan Teitman read his writing to souls of Shippensburg, then answered their questions during a mellow poetry reading.
Professor Zach Savich’s Poetry Writing class attended the reading along with other students, faculty and fans of written word.
After Savich started the event, Ariana Turiansky talked about the poet’s adolescence in Philadelphia and how poetry should be as though “one were walking the block of certain ancient cities — you never know what will come next.”
Bouquets of “thank you” tokens were thrown amongst them. Finally, Teitman introduced himself briefly before diving into his poems.
Teitman began by reading from his book, “Litany for the City,” which includes personal collection of images, stories and memories. “The Cabinet of Things Swallowed” was the first poem he read. He entertained listeners with a vision of his fourth grade-self looking through the cabinet, amazed at what people fit into their bodies. Themes of the city, children, animals and religion or spirituality soon emerged from his voice.
The poet also read some “regular new” and “new new” poetry, like “In the Story My Mother Tells” about his Ukrainian grandfather. Lines like “I don’t believe in winter,” “I don’t believe in love,” and “I don’t believe in hope,” mean more being read out loud with feeling and occasional eye contact.
One would wonder if this is what he really believes. After all, he wrote a series about a fictional, inadequate father. Teitman even felt it was necessary to give the disclaimer, “My dad really is a nice guy! Don’t worry about me. I’m OK.”
Finally, Savich led a question-and-answer session. While responding, Teitman admitted he is terrified of tornadoes and earthquakes, but he has yet to write a poem about either.Savich asked Teitman to apply his background as a journalist to writing poetry.
After the reading, Teitman signed copies of the book he read from. He encouraged fans to look for another book to come out “sometime within the next year and forever.”