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Alliterative Academics Assemble

by Lisa Wilbourne

Last night, May 31, seven faculty members from ECU’s English department participated in the first Pirate Prof Pack–a group of creative writers interested in reading their work publicly.

pirate prof packThe twenty or so people gathered in the performance area of the Tipsy Teapot heard a variety of styles from verbal snapshots: poetry not just about human hearts and broken bird necks, but some lovelier images and humorous pieces as well; to intimate and evocative nonfiction and excerpts from book projects: ancient Alexandria, and high fashion.

Angie Mellor’s nonfiction was one of the highlights of the evening. A piece beginning with hopeful excitement about traveling abroad, vivid, happy recollections of Irish bars and finding love ended with innocence lost in a style neither overly-contrived nor pushy, but striking in its honesty.

The most experimental and wry of the voices, Randall Martoccia performed a rap-like poem about donuts and murder, and a clever and modern Shakespearean sonnet, outed as having been performed on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Love is a Space Age Polymer.


Tom Herron’s short poems captured everyday things in language both surprising and immediately clear, like the poppies with their “upturned skirts waiting for the sun to commence.” (That’s a recollection, not necessarily a direct quote.) Herron also read his “pen envy” response to Martoccia’s sonnet. As each writer was unaware of what the others were reading, this closed the night with a fun bit of whimsy.

Amber Flora Thomas, Gabrielle Freeman, Joe Horst and Mellisa Dempsey made up the rest of the pack, each bringing a unique voice to the night.

According to The East Carolinian’s May 29 article, the Pack isn’t just open to faculty in the English department, but “they’re open to any faculty member interested in different styles of creative writing.” So, if you’re a faculty member with some creative writing you’d like to share at the next reading in the Fall get in touch with Freeman or Horst.

Added June 3, 2013: Tom Herron kindly shared his poem Poppy with us. Please enjoy.

Herron Poppy

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