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Former Lawtonian, poet to visit Cameron, share 'music of words'

Jenny Yang Cropp's grandfather was the pastor of a small church in Lawton for over 30 years. It was in the pews, listening to him weave stories into powerful arguments about love, faith and hope, that Cropp found her love of language.

"It's his voice I channel when I write, his gift for the music of words," Cropp said.

Cropp is a former Cameron professor, born in Lawton; she now serves as an assistant professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University, where she teaches creative writing and small press publishing. She also is poetry editor for Big Muddy, the school's literary journal.

Festival X Reading Seriesto continue on Friday

Cropp will be returning to Lawton on Friday as a part of Cameron's University's Festival X Reading Series, held in conjunction with the university's current academic festival, "American Identities in the 21st Century."

"My writing focuses its attention on identity formation. What forces shape the way we see ourselves? How can we push back against the forces that are negative? How can we begin to shape our identities for ourselves? As a biracial Korean American from Oklahoma, I'm always interested in the ways that race, class and gender have influenced how I move through the world."

Cropp is the author of the poetry collection "String Theory," a 2016 Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and the chapbook "Hanging the Moon." Her latest chapbook, "Not a Bird or a Flower," is forthcoming from Ryga: A Journal of Provocations. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals including Ecotone, Hayden's Ferry Review and Poemeleon. 

"More than anything else, I hope my poetry makes people feel less alone," Cropp said.

Cropp's newest chapbook "Not a Bird or a Flower," is set to be released soon.

"The book is a series of prose poems about being a girl growing up in Oklahoma, a state with a very poor track record when it comes to violence against women. It's a book about trauma and healing. I wrote almost all of it while I was living in Lawton, my hometown. Being there again, I could see the landscape where so much of my identity was formed, and it was a gift to my writing," Cropp said.

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