Sons and brothers


“I talk too much,” Eva Fernandez, AM’82, a Basic Program instructor at the Graham School of General Studies, said during Friday’s poetry reading at the Chicago Cultural Center. Part of the First Friday lecture series, “The Taste of Copper: A Poetry Reading” departed from the series’ standard brand of lecture—more typically represented by Raymond Ciacci’s (AM’84, PhD’90) upcoming October 5 talk, “Is there a Form of Absolute Happiness?” Fernandez’s reading drew a crowd of new faces, said lecture coordinator Clare Pearson, AB’82, AM’01, who introduced the “long-time poet.”

Fernandez explained her poems before reading them to help the audience "receive the poems orally.” She grouped her works by topic, though they didn’t always fall neatly into her prescribed categories: poems about the body and about death; dream-like verses; good-love and bad-love poems; and poems about her family. A scholar of Old English and contemporary poetry as well as 17th-century English literature, Fernandez also draws inspiration from other writers’ forms and themes. “Sad Boy Collapsed,” written for her 10-year-old son Max, she said, is “strangely indebted” to Paradise Lost and Milton’s “insistence that Eden isn’t just a garden” from which Adam and Eve were expelled but an entire country where they lived. The poem begins with a disappointed boy who has grown too large to be lifted, but the tone later shifts: "The flat world is our Eden. Let’s go for a walk." In an untitled piece dedicated to her brother, she uses an English sonnet form—three stanzas of four lines, ending with a rhyming couplet: “What I wouldn’t give for one specific thing / That was his and now belongs to everything.”

Although the program ran slightly over its scheduled hour, the discussion continued after Fernandez stepped offstage; some audience members stayed to talk to the poet and each other. One of the first to approach Fernandez was one of her inspirations, Max.


Photo: Eva Fernandez reads her poetry in the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater.

September 10, 2007