WESLEY SEXTON | STAFF REPORTER
Manning’s first professorial position was at Indiana University Bloomington, and he greeted many of his former students from the podium. He also took time between poems to relay quick anecdotes—and to occasionally laugh with a member of the crowd.
Manning spoke with a humble, pebbly voice, taking time to notice the crows, the sun and, most importantly, the trees.
“The Gone and the Going Away” is a collection of poems that all take place in “Fog Town Holler,” a mythologized place created with a unique mix of memory and imagination.
The characters in Fog Town Holler are authentic, small-town Kentuckians, and the landscapes drip with sunshine and metaphysical contemplations.
Manning also read several unpublished poems from a collection he intends to move into print within the year.
Manning’s tone in these new poems swayed between meditatively calm and shockingly funny.
On more than one occasion, audience members cackled with laughter, only to be silenced by the contemplative power of Manning’s next poem.
This range of voice, coupled with an adroit sense of observation, make Manning’s poems refreshing and beautifully strange.
After the reading Manning indulged questions from the audience, revealing quirks about his writing process and detailing some of his opinions about art and poetry.
Manning is the first of several writers to visit Butler’s campus this semester as a part of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writer’s Series. Next up is NoViolet Bulawayo, who will be reading in the Reilly Room on Feb. 23.