Instead, I’ll leave the explanation up to a braver soul, the author herself, who is the featured speaker Nov. 9 at the Houston Cole Library in Jacksonville. The event, which will be at 7 p.m on the 11th floor of the library, is sponsored by Friends of the Library at Houston Cole. It is open and free to the public.
Unmentionables in Fennelley’s view, involves so much more than the assumption of what the word means, she explained in a recent telephone interview. In her poetry, “unmentionables” means things we all encounter in the human experience that we aren’t used to talking about because it’s uncomfortable, she said, or because our language is insufficient. In Unmentionables, she explores how to address these problems and come to terms with them.
Fennelley is an assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi. According to her resume, she has published at least six books of poetry, and won a National Endowment for the Arts Award and an Inaugural United States Artist Grant. Also, Ms. Fennelley has many poems in anthropologies and scholarly publications.
But for all her honors, her poems are “surprisingly readable,” according to a review in the Christian Science Monitor in 2009. At JSU, members of the Houston Cole Library’s Friends have read some of her books, which include Tender Hooks, Open House and A Different Kind of Hunger, and then selected her as their featured writer.
Ms. Fennelley’s audience will hear her recite her verse instead of reading it.
“I think poets have a personal obligation to their audiences in these engagements,” she said. “I’ve concentrated on the poems so long, they are lodged in my head. So often I leave the theater or a concert really dazzled. By the same token, I think poets should work to make their presentations more ecstatic. We have an obligation to our audiences.”
Unmentionables is the third collection of poems she has written. Divided into seven sections, the poems explore the mystery of human relationships — between lovers, family members and between ourselves and our perception of others, Fennelley said.
“I address our human foibles, such as limiting gender roles and our cruelty imbedded in our everyday interrelationships, and the guilt that follows,” she said.
In her poetry, she investigates the human soul as we see it. In “Kudzu Chronicles” one of her longer poems in Unmentionables, she investigates how landscape influences psychology. Read out loud, it seems more of a narrative than verse and presents the weed in beauty and with interesting but convoluted history. On the page, it is a poem that pleases the ear as well as the eye. It was written just after she moved to the South.
Great With Child: Letters to A Young Mother is a non-fiction title she may cover Nov. 9, written in prose. It dignifies motherhood, Fennelley said. And for those who want to read her writings in advance of her appearance, Tender Hooks can be found at the Anniston-Calhoun Public Library. This piece was inspired by the writer’s experience with Claire, her daughter.
Perhaps Unmentionables, as well as Fennelley’s other achievements, are best summed up in a quote by Gamaliel Bailey, an American journalist who lived from 1807 to 1859: “Poets are all who love and feel great truths, and tell them.”
CAST Kidz, a vocal, drama and dance group associated with CAST Theatre, is recruiting new members who are ages 4 to 19. The meetings at this time are at 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays at First Presbyterian Church in Anniston. CAST Kidz is always on the lookout for a volunteer musical director and a volunteer choreographer, according to Artistic Director Kim Dobbs. Anyone interested in joining the group is asked to call Adminstrative Director Sherry French at 256-820-1529.