Poet reads at Fresno State

Sarah Wetzel, a prize-winning poet, read her latest work in the Peters Education Center Friday night to an auditorium full of graduate-level English students.

Wetzel was the 2009 winner of the Philip Levine Prize in poetry for her book “Bathsheba Transatlantic.”

“Every year a winner is chosen for the Levine Prize where the winner is given $2000, their book published and they do a reading as part of the process,” Connie Hales, masters of fine art coordinator, said.

A class of MFA students read through hundreds of manuscripts sent in from all over the world and narrowed it down to 25 finalists. Then a poet judge chose the final winner.

Wetzel was chosen by Garrett Hongo.

“Depending on the number of manuscripts, we will do 10 to 20 readings a week,” Michelle Brittan, an MFA graduate student, said.

What students found in Wetzel’s work was something different that popped out to them, making them read more.

“We encourage those reading the manuscripts to not spend too much time reading something that doesn’t pop out to them, something that doesn’t draw them deeper into the manuscript,” Megan Baptista-Geist, an MFA Graduate student, said. “If students spent a lot of time on all the manuscripts, it would virtually take them forever to read.”

A lot of Wetzel’s ideas for poems come from the things she sees and hears on a day-to-day basis. One poem she wrote had to do with something she caught on TV, whereas another was about history passed down from generations of Israelis.

“Find something that moves you, find an obsession,” Wetzel said. “That’s what I found.”

Wetzel also found inspiration from reading other poets work.

Wetzel is currently working on a new set of poems, some of which were read Friday night.

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