Wick Poetry Center night features unusual themes

Mlekodays book, The Dead Eat Everything, is available through Kent State University Press. Photo by Bruce Walton.

Mlekoday’s book, “The Dead Eat Everything,” is available through Kent State University Press. Photo by Bruce Walton.

Bruce Walton

Vacation sex and accidental drive-bys — just some of the topics recited at the 19th annual Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize evening of poetry in the Kiva on Wednesday.

The Wick Poetry Center’s evening of poetry featured national poet Dorianne Laux and the winner of the 2012 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, Michael Mlekoday.

Mlekoday, an MFA student at Indiana State University, led the poetry reading with his published poetry book, “The Dead Eat Everything.”

The Stan and Tom Wick prize is a contest that allows rising poets to submit their poetry manuscripts, Wick Poetry Center director David Hassler said. After hundreds of manuscripts are screened, a well-known, national poet judges only the top 20 finalists.

“What’s exciting is to see this mentoring happening between an older poet who selects another poet whose voice is not yet been heard and not yet been published and found an audience,” Hassler said. “And to see and bring them together has a lot of wonderful energy and a kinetic kind of combustion.”

Mlekoday recited from his book about personal experiences about death and sex.

After Mlekoday finished, Laux took the stage and read excerpts from her book “Facts About the Moon” and a poem with similar themes to Mlekoday’s work from her book “The Book of Men” as well as some original poems she had not published yet.

Hassler said both poets read poetry that was unusual and touched on taboo subjects in people’s daily lives but said it was refreshing to hear it.

Hassler said the Wick Poetry Center selects a nationally known poet to judge the 20 manuscripts of the finalists out of the hundreds submitted. Laux, last year’s judge, said she read the manuscripts and said Mlekoday’s manuscript stood above the rest.

“It’s unbelievable, it came as a great surprise,” Mlekoday said. “Great in both size and quality.”

Mlekoday said he got the news around August of last year and had been working with Laux and the center to publish it. Mlekoday said he received published copies of his books a few weeks ago and showed them to colleagues and family members, who have all been supportive. He also thanked the poetry center for their support, too.

“One of the reasons why I think the Wick Poetry Center is so important is that it’s really unique in what it does,” Mlekoday said. “The Wick Poetry Center (is) a dedicated space that does a lot of community work in northeastern Ohio.”

Mlekoday said his book, published by the Kent State press, is now published and will be sold on the Kent State University Press website, Amazon and small local bookstores. He said he only hopes that people pick up his book and it inspires them to write as well.

To preorder Mlekoday’s book online, visit www.kentstateuniversitypress.com/2013/the-dead-eat-everything/.

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].