6 students standing and smiling

Pictured, from left to right: Mateo Kirstine, Briannah McDaniel, Ryan Morganti, Abby Baker, Derek Mills, Anna Vonkeman, Damian Kortus, Ann Warkenthian

The DSU English club took a trip to the South Dakota Festival of Books on Friday, September 23rd to experience a reading by American poet Terrance Hayes. Hayes won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2010. At this event he was reading from his most recent book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. His booming, deep voice swept over the auditorium in Brookings, SD as he recited his favorite sonnets for the listeners, along with some that he had never shared with an audience before.

The eight students who attended the event with Dr. Haley Larson (professor of English for New Media) were a diverse group. They had majors ranging from English to Elementary Education, Math, and Cyber Operations. Many were not yet part of the English club but decided to make the trip because it sounded interesting. A few of the students were also able to attend sessions from various authors who presented at the festival in the afternoon.

Although not all of those who attended the event were big fans of the poetry they heard, they agreed that Hayes was an amazingly talented author. Ryan Morganti, a senior at DSU, said that he “enjoyed learning about the format of poetry, especially the Golden Shovel, that was cool.” The Golden Shovel is a new form of poetry that Hayes created which is now being used throughout the country.

Although Hayes was the genius behind this new form, he clarified at the book festival that rather than claiming ownership rights for it, he wants it to be free for other writers to use and change.  Briannah McDaniel, a DSU senior studying cyber operations, noted the way that the poet played with grammar, mentioning that she enjoyed one sonnet that was almost entirely made up of adverbs. All in all, the students declared the book festival an enormous success. “I think that the book festival is a great experience,” said Derek Mills, a sophomore majoring in elementary education. “It was really cool to hear from authors about their books and their writing process.”

The South Dakota Festival of Books is held in Brookings every other year. Students at DSU hope to be able to attend again, and perhaps hear from several more authors the next time the festival comes to east river South Dakota.