Professors offer insightful readings

Contributed Photo
‘Mixing Up the Medicine’ is from Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues.’ According to Mary Carden, it embodies the experimentation that leads to memorable stories and poems.
Reading event held at Scot Cinema

By Kat Stafford
Staff Writer/Spectator

Students and faculty filled the Scot Cinema last Monday in order to listen to the readings of Edinboro University English professors Dr. Jeffrey Bartone, John Repp, Thomas Lipinski and Caroline Campbell.

Before the faculty read their works, Professor Mary Carden explained why the presentation was titled “Mixing Up the Medicine.”

“‘Mixing Up the Medicine’ is from Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’” Carden said. “It appealed to us because it embodies the experimentation and improvisation that leads to memorable stories and poems. It also suggests something of the necessity of art, and of the work that goes into crafting it. The medicine that gets mixed in [with] good writing invigorates human life and helps restore us to health. The work you’ll hear this evening is nothing less than medicine for the spirit,” Carden said.

Bartone was the first reader.

He read the first few pages from his story “Infinite Drift,” which was released Nov. 1. The main character, Eggers, is living in a cabin and trying to develop a theory. An old man, who lives not far from Eggers, pays him a visit and listens as Eggers tries to explain his theory. 

One viewer, Dakota Palmer, said she enjoyed Bartone’s story. “I think his novel will be really interesting, so I plan on getting it once it actually comes out. I just like fiction a lot and it kept my attention the entire time. I was never really bored,” Palmer explained. Jacque White also liked the story saying, “I think I liked the way he talked, and I found the story to be kinda interesting. I just enjoyed listening to it.”

Repp was the next presenter; he read some of his poems from his book “Fat Jersey Blues” which was published in February. “All but a few [of the poems] are set in South Jersey,” Repp said. He told the audience that the first four poems he read helped give the book its name. Another poem he read was a fictionalized version of when he worked at a graveyard. He said the ideas for his poems come from “all kinds of places, memories, things I read, music, scraps of conversation, news stories, all kinds of places.”

For Repp, writing his poems was a challenge. “But, it’s a challenge that I welcome.”

Lipinski read from his story “Key Drop.” It was published in 2011 in a book called “Pittsburgh Noir.”

He is lengthening his story so he can try to use it for another market and has renamed it “Butler Street.”

His story is a detective thriller set in Pittsburgh.

When he was writing the plot, he wasn’t sure it would work.

His plot involves “a daycare center in which they [the daycare workers] were using Benadryl to put the kids out while everybody could go out and get their own drugs. And I thought it was a little wacky when I first put it together. And then a few months later, it was in the Pittsburgh news. There was some place out in East Liberty that was doing the exact same thing.”

Campbell was the last to read; she read poems she is going to include in a manuscript that she is sending out and from her chapbook “incongruent: someday.” “A chapbook is a smaller version of a full length manuscript,” Campbell explained. “Chapbooks are generally below 30 pages... Usually chapbooks are published by small presses.

“Basically, the chapbook is a whole collection of poems that use only the colon as their punctuation mark. There’s no end stop, there’s no commas, anything like that. The colon serves as, like, a place holder between thoughts and ideas. Also, (colons) kind of help shape the poem, too. They’re kinda blocky but they do end up being more vertical than horizontal.”

She read a poem called “Bats.” She explained to the audience how the poem was about a bat, which was on her floor when she came home. Another poem she read was from a prompt her friend gave her; she was to use as many clichés as possible. The poem was “Hold Your Horses Cowboy.”

“I didn’t know if it was going to be successful and [I] just kept working with it,” Campbell said.

Aidan McCracken liked Campbell’s poems because “it was sort of a departure from normality as far as style goes.”

White and McCracken said they would be interested in reading the stories and poems the professors created. “I would certainly try to access an anthology in some capacity,” McCracken said. “Especially if something like this was reasonably priced, it would be nice to own the physical manuscript. As a side bar, there’s something, especially with the texts in literature, that you like to have physically in front of you.”

“I would at least be interested in looking through them and actually being able to read them,” said White. “I think I enjoy poetry a lot more when I’m able to sit and look at it and digest it that way.”

Kat Stafford is the staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached by