Poet Mark Jarman will be vis­iting campus next week to deliver a lecture and read from his poems.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, Pro­fessor of English Dutton Kearney will do a reading of a few poems from “Bone Fires,” a col­lection of poems written over the last thirty years by Jarman, an American mod­ernist poet. Jarman will be giving a talk on campus on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. in Dow A and B. 

Jarman is known for his role as one of the main leaders of the New For­malist movement of poetry, which started in the ’70s and ’80s. This movement was based upon the belief that poetry should not be a wholly abstract entity, but should have the ele­ments of a story. 

Jarman was born in Ken­tucky and grew up in church under the guidance of his father, who served in various churches. His family even­tually moved to Cal­i­fornia, where he would attend the Uni­versity of Cal­i­fornia at Santa Cruz and earn his bach­elors’ in English lit­er­ature. Jarman went on to teach cre­ative writing at Indiana State and Murry State Uni­versity, and then English at Van­derbilt, where he is still today. 

Jarman co-authored a lit­erary mag­azine wherein he explained that poetry should be written, in the words of Kearney, “in a three-pronged approach, where content, rhythm, and form are all used together.”

The strong presence of religion in his early life lead to the spir­itual themes in many of Jarman’s poems. Many seem to describe moments in his life in which he intro­spec­tively tries to explain his thoughts on faith. 

The title “Bone Fires” sug­gests poems dealing with the natural world, and many of Jarman’s poems use ele­ments of nature to portray his meaning: the crashing waves, the wingbeat of a bird, yellow wasps hiding behind a veil.

Although emo­tions in Jarman’s poetry may be hard to detect because of this style of writing, the reader can feel moments of turmoil or joy. 

Kearney explained why the book is broken into two seg­ments, “Unholy Sonnets” and “The Gift.”

“The ‘Unholy Sonnets’ portion of ‘Bone Fires’ tells a story about Jarman’s faith through each poem in that section, while ‘The Gift’ is a whole story in itself, showing the reader the con­trast between Jarman’s poetry,” Kearney said. 

“The Word ‘Answer’” begins with a sequence of violent actions, some of which are easier to picture than others: “Atomic skin through dreamy wine/…They spread four fingers like a lizard’s hand,” Jarman writes.

Jarman then tran­si­tions into a description of a man getting out of the bath and thinking he may hear someone out the door, some­thing trying to get him, and won­dering whether he should go and open the door for it. 

After much delib­er­ation, the speaker enters a tumul­tuous con­ver­sation inside his mind about the God he knows and the God he may want. 

Some of the poems are direct por­traits of his childhood, like “The Gift.” The poem follows a little boy at school, being kid­napped by his father without knowing he is being kid­napped. Here, Jarman reflects on a very precise moment in his life and allows us to relive it with him. 

This dichotomy of themes serves a spe­cific purpose, Kearney explained.

“Jarman uses a variety of poetic ele­ments to engage the reader in his journey with faith and to show viewers how poetry can be used in so many dif­ferent ways to emo­tionally engage readers, without under­mining the purpose of poetry with purely abstract ele­ments,” Kearney said.