Words brought to life: Poetry reading by Brett Ralph, Nina Corwin


Brett Ralph, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, recites a poem out of his book “Black Sabbatical” to a captivated audience in the studio theater at Truax.

Ellie Dahlquist, Opinion Editor

Making art is hard, frustrating and exhausting mental work. “You gotta go in to deep places. I think we figure out reasons to avoid it, because it’s taxing,” said Brett Ralph, poet, musician and educator.

Ralph also explained how fulfilling it is to be creative. “Having the privilege of impacting other people – the way I’ve been impacted by literature, music and art – has inspired me my whole life; being a part of that legacy is what’s so important to me.”

The Yahara Journal sponsored a poetry reading featuring Brett Ralph and Nina Corwin on Nov. 8, at 3:30 p.m. in Truax Room 206.

Ralph offered advice for young writers. “I think everyone who wants to be a serious artist should look at their lives and ask, what activities am I involved in that are expendable and that would free up more time?”

He explained why writer’s block doesn’t exist. “There are two excuses that we use to rationalize writer’s block, and they’re laziness and cowardess. We benefit from developing a schedule, and I think waiting for inspiration is a loser’s game.”

“Any excuse I come up with not to work on my art I assume is bullshit. That’s the football player in me. I played football for thirteen years – I loathe excuses. I assume it’s my job to do the stuff that I want to do, and if I don’t do it, I refuse to blame the world or other people when I don’t,” he said.

Describing how he realized his skills he said, “I think the same time I became a poet was when I became a performer too so they’ve always gone hand-in-hand for me.”

As an assignment in 5th grade, Ralph wrote a long poem. His teacher thought it was so good that she asked him to recite it at an assembly. “The way they responded, that made me want to write. Art is a public endeavor, and if it’s good art, you’re thinking about your audience while you’re writing.”

Although his art has an autobiographical nature, he explained that it’s just a catalyst. “It’s not just me spewing out whatever I feel or think. The goal of every poem is to blow your mind,” he said.

Ralph’s work has appeared in many publications, and has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Missouri State University, and the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in the Himalayas of northern India. He’s currently teaching at Hopkinsville Community College, he plays with his country-rock ensemble, Brett Eugene Ralph’s Kentucky Chrome Review.

Corwin, poet and psychotherapist, authored “The Uncertainty of Maps,” and “Conversations With Friendly Demons and Tainted Saints.” Like Ralph, she has also appeared in many publications. She has also been nominated for the Pushcart prize.

Students were able to meet and converse with these two nationally recognized individuals afterwards. Some even obtained autographed copies of their work.