WKU grad, BuzzFeed editor to give poetry reading


Samantha Wright

UPDATE: Due to threat of inclement weather, the Goldenrod event featuring Saeed Jones has been canceled. English Club official Brittany Moster said Jones’s flight was canceled, but he expressed interest in participating later in the semester. 

Critically acclaimed poet Saeed Jones will be visiting WKU on March 4 as a guest poet and judge of the annual Goldenrod poetry contest, hosted by the English Club. 

An alumnus of WKU, Jones is a BuzzFeed LGBT editor and a recipient of the Pushcart Prize. His Twitter, @theferocity, was ranked by TIME Magazine as one of the best of 2014.  

He is the author of the collection “Prelude to Bruise,” released in September of 2014. His poems deal with race, sexuality and life in the South. While his poems aren’t autobiographical, they are inspired by his life experiences as a gay, black man growing up in the South. This collection was one of the five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle’s poetry award, the winner of which will be announced March 12. 

Jones will aid the English Club in deciding the winners of the Goldenrod poetry contest. The English Club will choose the top 10 submissions, and of those, Jones will pick the top three. The top three will each get a certificate and a modest cash prize: the first-place winner gets $30, second place gets $20 and third place gets $10.

As part of his visit, Jones will lead a workshop for the 10 contest finalists prior to his reading. The finalists, as well as the Creative Writing Faculty and members of the English Club, will then accompany him for dinner. The finalists will join Jones in reading their poems at his reading, where he will decide the winners.

Eryn Karmiller, vice president of the English Club, said she’s pleased such an acclaimed poet is coming to WKU.

“Almost immediately after we nailed him down as our guest poet, he was named one of five finalists for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for his latest poetry collection, ‘Prelude to Bruise,’ and had a piece published by the New York Times,” she said. “We’re grateful we got him locked down before his schedule starts filling up like crazy, as it undoubtedly will from all this exposure.”

 Karmiller said as a result of his recent “buzz”, anticipation of a larger crowd moved the event to a bigger venue. 

Jerod Hollyfield, co-advisor of the English Club, said that having Jones visit WKU serves as an encouragement to English majors.

“Saeed Jones is one of the English department’s most distinguished graduates. Not only is he a poet who is gaining international acclaim, but he’s also an editor for BuzzFeed,” he said. “He’s living proof that one can have multiple occupational and artistic opportunities with an English major.”

Brittany Moster, president of the English Club, believes that Jones can offer encouragement to other WKU students as well.

“Saeed is a great poet who is gaining more and more recognition. The fact that he is a WKU grad means wonderful things for the university because it indicates that WKU students are doing awesome things,” she said. “It also means that WKU has the ability to bring speakers to campus who are doing important things in the world and making a difference, whether that is with their actions or, as in Saeed’s case, with their words.”

Jones will giving a reading of his work on March 4, in the Recital Hall, Room 189 of the fine arts center, at 7 p.m. The free reading is open to the public.