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Poetry reading to focus on love

Since 2002, the Leslie Powell Foundation Gallery has given John Morris the opportunity to read poetry, usually around Valentine's Day. And every year he happily obliges.

This year his poetry reading will occur on Valentine's Day  an alternative to the standard date of dinner and a movie. He'll read a number of classic poems dealing with love from different angles and perspectives. He'll also read some modern poems either about love or ones he calls "poems to love." And he'll read two new poems of his that are not included in his book "Noise and Stories" (2008).

Over the years Morris has read several poems more than once, but not consecutively, and each year he tries to find new poems on the subject of love or other subjects he thinks the audience will enjoy.

"Though I do not have the list from the first few years, I have kept the lists from the last seven or eight to refresh my memory," Morris said. "... When I sit down to select the poems, I collect the poems I have set aside during the year, review from the past few years and come up with a new list."

Some selections

At Tuesday's reading, Morris will read Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and Sir Walter Raleigh's rejoinder, "The Nymph's Reply." For the first time he'll be reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous sonnet that begins, "How Do I Love Thee?" and a recent poem about the relationship between a mother and daughter, "The Time Machine" by Laura Kasischke, just to name a few.

"I've loved reading poetry out loud ever since I was in college," said Morris, a professor of English at Cameron University, "and, although I've begun to try to share the wealth with my students in literature classes, I used to joke with them that I earned a Ph.D. so that I could read the poems in class. The gallery, which is one of the wonderful cultural venues in Lawton, is a great space for readings, and the people who come to the reading every year are generous and enthusiastic. I will keep coming back as long as I keep getting invited."

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