Author and University of Louisiana professor Lisa Graley came to Shippensburg University on March 5 to read some of her poetry and short stories from her works in Old Main Chapel.
Graley, a colleague of SU English professor of Neil Connelly, visited SU for the second time to share excerpts from her two works, “Box of Blue Horses” and “The Current That Carries.” The event was sponsored by SU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Women’s Center and The Reflector, SU’s student-run literary publication.
Connelly introduced Graley and shared stories about their days in graduate school at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He said he always admired how Graley would get up at 5 a.m., commute, teach and go to graduate school every day.
Connelly said Graley told him, “It’s what farmers do.”
Graley was used to that life growing up in Sod, West Virginia, where she lived with her family who raised goats. She later studied journalism at Marshall University and worked at a local newspaper after graduating. From there, Graley got her Master of Fine Arts at McNeese State University and her doctorate at University of Louisiana.
Graley read some of her poems from her book, “Box of Blue Horses.” The idea for the title stemmed from an old cigar box she kept on her desk. She kept blue glass horses in the box because she did not want to dust them.
Some of Graley’s work features ekphrastic poems, which are poems that focus on art. She used Franz Marc’s painting, “Big Blue Horses,” as her muse for the book and poetry.
Graley read part of a manuscript she is currently working on called “Root Bound,” and a poem called “Thaw,” which discussed how the world awakens during the coming of springtime.
Graley read “Burying Ground,” which discussed a man’s journey of burying his father. In an unexpected turn of events, the family discovers a red tractor buried in the man’s father’s burial plot. The short story is a reflection on the main character’s father’s life. It explores the mystery of why a tractor would be buried in the father’s intended resting place.
Lastly, she read part of her novel called “The Current That Carries.” This book was featured in the Flannery O’Connor series, in the volume about death. Sophomore Kaitlyn Johnson enjoyed Graley’s poetry and the style it was written in.
“I liked how her poetry is almost written in short story style, not just a regular narrative style like most poetry,” Johnson said.