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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern alum Evie Shockley brings ‘suddenly we’ to University Hall

Olivia Mofus/The Daily Northwestern
Poet and literary scholar Evie Shockley read selections from her latest poetry collection “suddenly we” at University Hall Thursday.

Returning to her roots as a poet and literacy scholar, Evie Shockley (Weinberg ‘88), reflected on art and identity at her poetry reading in University Hall Thursday. 

Shockley read and discussed the collection of poems in her latest book, “suddenly we.” She said the poems center around the themes of art and collective unity, which she referred to as dreaming of a more inclusive ‘we.’ 

“If there is a ‘we’ or even the ‘I’ of the term, it stands as an invitation for you to step into it and for you to reflect on what makes you feel that you can or cannot, would or would not,” Shockley said. 

Her work has twice garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Los Angeles Times Book Review Prize. 

Colin Pope, assistant director of creative writing and the department’s events organizer, said he thinks Shockley represents a voice needed in poetry right now.  

Shockley thinks, creates and writes on a Black feminist horizon, she said. Pope emphasized her poetry speaks to a wide swath of people from diverse backgrounds

“All of that at this cultural moment is really important to Northwestern,” Pope said.  

The poetry reading event organized by Northwestern’s English department drew an audience of about 30 attendees to University Hall’s Hagstrum Room. 

School of Communications senior Sydney Moe said Shockley’s writing felt intentional when she read it aloud. 

“She writes about and goes through girlhood, race, art and many personal and yet also very big things in the world,” said McCormick junior Grace Hooper. “She does it very seamlessly, and that was one of the highlights of it for me.” 

Pope said connecting to Shockley’s words was effortless because of her skill in conveying her inner feelings in her life into poetry. 

During the reading, Shockley said poetry serves several purposes for her. She said her works are a subtext from works of individuals, including Alison Saar, Alma Thomas and John King. 

“It’s for expressing your interior feelings, hearing your head around what you think about what’s going on in the world around you, working through issues and it’s just fun,” Shockley said. 

Moe noted the artistry of hearing the voice of an author speak their writing. She said the reading brought her writing to life. 

Pope said he hopes events like these will spread awareness of the breadth and seriousness of the people they bring here. 

“I guess I don’t see in my day-to-day life people who actually pursue things like writing,” Hooper said. “It’s kind of like a fantasy and not really like a real thing to me, so I was excited to see someone very passionate talk through their work.” 

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