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Villanova Literary Festival Speaker Donika Kelly Visits Campus

By Lauren Picard 

Photo courtesy of Lauren Picard.


This past Thursday, poet Donika Kelly read her work to a captivated audience in Falvey Library Speakers’ Corner as part of the 25th Annual Villanova Literary Festival 

After being introduced by two Villanova students, Kelly took to the podium, where her warm and lighthearted presence immediately set the audience at ease. Before diving headfirst into the first poem from her published book, Bestiary, Kelly asked the audience if they knew what a Centaur was. After some chuckles and nods from the audience, Kelly began reading, “Love Poem: Centaur”. Her use of repetition and visual language in the poem not only brought the audience into the mystical land in which a Centaur might truly exist, but also personified the thoughts of a Centaur in love: “Nothing approaches a field like me. Hard / gallop, hard chest—hooves and mane and flicking / tail… Love, / I pound the earth for you. I pound the earth” (Kelly, p. 41). Love and legendary creatures fill the pages of Bestiary, and it was a pleasure to have Kelly take us on a tour. 

Kelly also read from her most recently published book of poetry, The Renunciations, which, as described by the students who introduced her, asks: can experiences be unremembered, and feelings unfelt? In both The Renunciations and Bestiary, Kelly explores love in its many different forms (even through certain poems dedicated to her partner which she fondly describes as “macaroni art”), and engages readers with her vivid language and storytelling.  

The Q&A session following her readings offered the audience a chance to learn more about Kelly’s writing and editing process, to which she had a sundry of candid advice for the aspiring poets in the audience. After the event’s conclusion, Kelly stayed behind to sign books and talk more with audience members.  

Kelly’s was the third event of the Villanova Literary Festival, and both of her books, Bestiary and The Renunciations are available through Falvey Library. The fourth and final Lit Fest event is coming up on Tues., April 18 at 7pm in Falvey Library Speakers’ Corner, and will feature Steph Cha, the author of Your House Will Pay. We hope to see you there!


Lauren Picard ’23 CLAS, is Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Last Modified: April 11, 2023

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