Award-winning poet speaks at Appalachian State University

Michael Bragg

The award-winning poet Toi Derricotte, whose autobiographical writings explore the issues of abuse, racism, death and pain, read and explained her work in Plemmons Student Union on Thursday evening as part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.

Sixty-eight chairs in the Table Rock Room were filled with students, Boone residents and out-of-town visitors who made a special trip just to hear Derricotte speak.

Derricotte has been on Appalachian State University’s campus for seven weeks teaching classes on writing skills and engaging in activities on campus.

The majority of Derricotte’s work is a reflection of emotions she felt growing up.

“I don’t write about what people necessarily want to hear,” Derricotte said. “I write about what people need to hear and what needs to be discussed.”

Derricotte shared her writing for the very first time with her cousin at age 13.

“After he read what I had written, he told me how morbid it was,” Derricotte said. “Hearing negative feedback caused me to bottle up for a very long time. I didn’t share my poetry again until I was in my 20s.”

Derricotte chose to start the reading by reciting some of her students’ work.

Subsequently, Derricotte shared several of her poems.

“Her words are so powerful,” senior creative writing major Connor Childers said. “Meeting her and hearing her read her poetry in person is an amazing experience in itself.”

Tears and laughter were expressed throughout the room.

“I was not expecting to hear the vivid experiences she shared with us,” senior psychology major Chris Basour said. “This was an incredible and powerful experience.”

Story: MEGHAN KING, Intern A&E Reporter