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Seibles Reads from New Poetry Collection as Guest of Florida Literary Arts Coalition

Old Dominion University's Tim Seibles recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Florida colleges and universities, reading from his new collection of poems, "Fast Animal."

The ODU associate professor of English and creative writing was invited as the quarterly guest of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition's Florida Writer's Circuit, created to provide writers opportunities to read and discuss their work, and to give host members of the circuit the opportunity to engage the writers at reduced expense through networking and sharing costs.

In nine days, Seibles spoke at seven higher education institutions across the state, including Miami-Dade College and the University of South Florida. "I put 1,000 miles on the rental car in a week. It was quite a great experience," said Seibles.

While some poetry can be appreciated in written form, Seibles said he loves having the opportunity to read his work aloud in public settings. "Poetry's roots are in song," he said. "It's a different appreciation you get when you hear poetry, or you speak it."

"Fast Animal," Seibles' seventh collection of poetry, traces his life from that of a 16-year-old in Philadelphia to the present day, as a 56-year-old "middle-aged man" living in Hampton Roads (he's been at ODU for 17 years).

"It's a journey, with memories of when I was a teenager, mixed with my current understanding of the world as I am today," said Seibles, calling the work "somewhat" autobiographical. "It involves memories, both inward and outward, that we make as we become adults."

Some of the poems are written from his perspective. Others involve the voice of someone else, but someone who shares his experience in some way. Collectively, "Fast Animal" tells a story about how life changes for all of us.

In the poem "Delores Jepps," Seibles finds that place of a 16-year-old boy, trying to find his place:

"we had no idea where we were,
how much history had come before us -
how much cruelty, how much more dying was on the way.
for me and Terry, it was a time when everything said
maybe, and maybe being blinded
by the beauty of a tenth grader
was proof that, for a little while,
we were safe from the teeth
that keep chewing up the world."

Seibles will read selections from "Fast Animal" at Prince Books in Norfolk, at 7 p.m. Friday, March 16.

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