Westminster English Department Hosts Poetry Reading

Franklin K.R. Cline recently released his book of poetry, So What. PHOTO BY THERASIA BRAUTIGAM.


The Westminster English Department hosted a poetry reading by Franklin K.R. Cline on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Cline’s unique poetic style uses ordinary objects to break down the stereotype that poetry needs to be deeply intellectual.

Cline is a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He recently published a book of his poetry titled So What.

Dr. Brandon Krieg, assistant professor of English, introduced Cline at the reading, claiming that after hearing his work, “you will feel what it’s like to be human.”

Cline began by reading William Olsen’s “Grocery Night.” He then transitioned to reading poems from So What. His poems include references to ordinary items such as movie theaters, bars, and groceries.

“It’s an art form people are scared of.”

–Franklin K.R. Cline

By including these ordinary objects, Cline says he is creating a “distance from poetry.” “People don’t expect to see” everyday items in poetry, so by including them, readers lose the “oh, it’s a poem” connotation that makes poetry seem deeply intellectual.


Cline 5

Students gathered to hear Cline as read from his book, So What.

Cline stated that he normally varies his set list depending on where he is reading. For his reading at Westminster, his set of poems included references to the Kansas City Royals.

Cline said he always knew he would be a writer, and he was inspired by beat poet Allen Ginsburg’s Howl. Howl was published in 1956 and is dedicated to Carl Solomon, a writer Ginsburg met at a psychiatric hospital.

When asked why he chose poetry as his creative writing genre, Cline responded, “Why not? It’s an art form people are scared of.”

According to Cline, he “drunkenly agreed” to publishing So What when he was at a bar with his publisher, Freddy La Force, who also attended the reading. Cline started writing the book in June and finished in October.

“Why write poetry about land? It describes itself.”

Cline claimed his writing is a “product of my environment.” He admitted that he should change writing locations occasionally to experience new atmospheres. He loves to write about nature, but he said he would “just write about trees.”

His poetry focuses on imagery of the sky rather than the land. Cline stated, “Why write poetry about land? It describes itself.”  He is not the outdoors type, he said, and after long drives on his book tour, only seeing nature, sometimes he is “itching to see a Steak ‘n Shake.”

Cline explained that he writes his poetry using his phone. When typing on his phone, line breaks can’t be made. He likes this method to ensure he does not force his poems to be lengthier than necessary.

“The poem should be entering you, not the other way around,” Cline stated.

Cline’s last stop on his book tour was Jan. 25 at Kismet Creative Center in St. Louis.




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