Award-winning poet to perform at Museum of Art


Sara Henning

Sara Henning, award-winning poet, will read a selection of her poems at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

John Schulze, assistant professor of English, coordinated the free event. He said anybody should give poetry readings a try.

“College is an opportunity to experience new things.This is one of those opportunities that will avail themselves in college that you might not ever do again,” Schulze said.

He used a nurse’s busy schedule with long shifts to make his point.

“You’re off for three days, and you’re just trying to catch up on your sleep, are you going to be tempted to go to a poetry reading? Well maybe, but you’re probably not going to go because you need to catch up on your sleep. There’s a lot more latitude and opportunity to experience it in college, whereas you might not get it later,” Schulze said.

Henning, the visiting poet and assistant professor of English at Stephen F. Austin State University, agreed that poetry is something everyone should experience, not just English majors.

“Poetry is important  for all of us to study. In some ways, it can speak some of our largest truths,” Henning said. “For a long time, poetry was an oral tradition. People would pass down stories by speaking them rhythmically, and I think that poetry was the way people reacted to things. Now, people are turning to poetry more to answer things.”

Lauren Ordner, English junior, said she is amazed at how beautifully poets can express themselves.

“Poetry has a way of expressing emotion in a way that no other form of literature can,” Ordner said. “I have great admiration for people who can do that.”

Ordner also said she enjoys the overall experience of poetry readings.She has been to a few that featured her classmates and professors.

“It’s really cool getting to know the creative side of these people that I know and see all the time. It’s always cool seeing what they come up with,” Ordner said.

Schulze also appreciates the atmosphere of poetry readings.

“Personally I enjoy the experience. It reminds me of being a kid, when my parents would read to me at bed-time. In some sense it’s kind of fun like that, but it can also be a performance in a way,” Schulze said.

Henning’s love for poetry began with her middle school journals, but even with this early passion for poetry she felt pressured into majoring in genetics instead of focussing on writing.

“In many ways I think I was being pushed to ‘do something that makes money Sara’ or ‘go be a doctor,’” Henning said. “I just ended up finding myself one summer taking a creative writing class.”

Ordner has experienced negative reactions when people discover she’s an English major. She thinks that activities like poetry readings can go under-appreciated because they are associated with majors that don’t have a guaranteed job waiting for them after college.

“Money is not everything. I’m an English major because I love English, and I feel like that’s important. I feel like I’d rather make no money doing something I love than a lot of money doing something I hate,” Ordner said.

Students can experience more of Henning’s relatable topics by attending her poetry reading and listening to her poetry which she is very excited to share.

“I want to visit campuses to further that goal of being excited about sharing art and conversations. It’s important to be an active intellectual and artistic member of where you live,” said Henning.

One piece of advice Henning said she would give to college students was that you don’t have to have it all figured out now.

“You want it all figured out. You want to know who you are going to be. The people we are at 25 or 30 or 35 or 40 are very different people, and so many things change. There’s so little that we can control. I think that being able to embrace change is important. Embrace when things don’t make sense or feel messy, and see that as something challenging or exciting rather than scary. I would love to teach 18-year-old Sara that.”

Henning is the winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Poetry Open. She will be reading as a part of the James Hoggard Reading Series from her award-winning manuscript, View From True North.