Shippensburg University welcomed renowned poets Meg Day and Teri Ellen Cross Davis on March 31 for a poetry reading, brief Q&A session and book signing. This event importantly celebrated International Trans Day of Visibility and marked the end of LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week and Women’s History Month. It was sponsored by multiple campus organizations including The Reflector and The PAGE Center.
“Today is Trans Visibility Day and we are supporting genderqueer writers,” Nicole Santalucia, an SU professor, said. “It’s also the last day of Women’s History Month, and Davis embraces all of being a woman. We need contemporary women to represent the long heritage of what we celebrate during women’s history month.”
Santalucia opened the evening with poignant words speaking to the necessity and significance of the event.
Santalucia also shared a poem crafted by herself and senior Bryce Mentzer, which featured lines from both featured poets’ work. She went on to invite Megan Gardenhour, Editor-in-Chief of The Reflector, to introduce Day, a deaf and genderqueer poet.
As Day emphasized the dangers which currently threatened LGBTQ+ youth, the previously dark and dreary skies parted, and she stood backlit by a rainbow in a moment teeming with poetic justice. Day then read from her book, ‘Last Psalm at Sea Level,’ reading poems such as “Teenage Lesbian Couple Found in Texas
Park with Gunshot Wounds to the Head” and “When They Took Her Breasts She Dreamt of Icarus.” She also shared some unreleased poems and poems in progress. Her work focuses on themes of identity, love, grief and illness.
Hannah Cornell, Associate Editor of The Reflector, then introduced Teri Ellen Cross Davis. Terri Ellen Cross Davis was then introduced by Hannah Cornell, Associate Editor of The Reflector. Davis read from her recently published book, ‘A More Perfect Union’, which details motherhood while being Black in America and retrieves Black women’s pleasure from the White gaze. Cross read poems such as “The Goddess of Anger” and “Prince Album Cover”. She elaborated on some of her inspirations, detailing her love of vinyl covers and a wide range of mythology, from Norse to Greek to Marvel comic book lore.
After a brief intermission, students, faculty, and community members then had the opportunity to engage in a short Q&A session with the poets. Audience members asked questions that engaged with the writing process, identity-poet relationship, and life experiences of the two poets. Throughout the night, Day and Davis supported each other and their work enthusiastically.
Copies of ‘A More Perfect Union’ and ‘Last Psalm at Sea Level’ were then distributed to the audience. Despite their popularity as evidenced by the long line which quickly formed, both Day and Davis took time to personally speak with each attendee and sign their books.
“Having these events inspires a diverse community and provides access to everyone on campus to be represented in the voices we hear,” said Hannah Cornell, who introduced Davis earlier in the night, said.
“And it’s a very gay day” Santalucia said, closing the night and filling the room with a sense of campus-wide unity.