Poet Bill Abbott Reads about Trains and Pains

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Poet Bill Abbott read selections from his book (My Life and Other) Famous Train Wrecks of Ohio to UC Clermont students

Poet Bill Abbott Provides Selections From New Book with a Personal Touch

Shannon Wells

On Monday, February 28th, 2022, at the UC Clermont College Library in the Peter-Jones building, special guest and poet, Bill Abbott, gave a reading to share excerpts from his collection, (My Life and Other) Famous Train Wrecks of Ohio, along with future works. The event was presented by UC Clermont’s literary magazine, The East Fork Journal. All students were welcome to attend. In order to accommodate those who could not attend in person, the reading was streamed online. 

Abbott covered multiple interesting poems from his body of work. The event was well attended, and there was enthusiastic participation towards the event. After the reading, audience members had an opportunity to speak with the author and get their copies of  (My Life and Other) Famous Train Wrecks of Ohio signed.   

Overall, the selection of poems had a creative theme that appealed to the participants and encouraged the genre of poetry to be explored further. Poems such as “Buckeye,” “The Hero of the Story,” and “Derailment Philosophy” were recited by Abbott to acquaint students who were unfamiliar with poetry. 

Abbott claims that his writing comes from a natural place. “I write wherever I am…I prefer to type rather than hand write because it’s faster to get the ideas out.” He also sees his work favoring more downbeat tones. “It’s a somber tone, yes. It’s dealing with a lot of bigger issues. I tried to kind of spread some lighter pieces throughout the book, so it’s not just completely heavy. It’s just kind of the reality of what I was writing about.”

There is a lot to take away from Abbott’s poems. The subject matter is unique to him, yet portrays relatable themes. “I was working around the idea of being single again at a later age. So, I was really kind of getting into those. But then my mom died. So, they all tie together. But if I’m looking for one poem that really kind of stood out, I feel pretty strongly about ‘Hiding Away the Pieces.’ It doesn’t work on its own, but it’s part of a series. I really kind of feel pretty strongly on that one.” 

For Abbott, this collection has a personal touch from the beginning. He mentions his children in the book and expresses gratitude to them in the dedication page. “Those are my children and I had never dedicated a book to them. Not that I’ve put out a lot of books at this point, but I had not dedicated one to them. And, at the same time, I mention them in some of the poems. I didn’t ask their permission or anything like that. So, my apology was kind of a preemptive: ‘Hey I’m saying things about you, but nothing bad.’” 

The reading was well received by the students in attendance. Elizabeth Cowles, a sophomore English major, had nothing but positive feedback for the event. “I think the event was great and I had a really great time,” Cowles stated when asked about her thoughts on the reading. “I think overall I was very surprised and excited, as I have not been to a poetry reading before, so it was very exciting to experience.”

Chloe Durham, also a sophomore English major, shared similar enthusiasm. “I loved the event! I think it is great how colleges are trying to get poets and authors a platform to express their art to students.” Durham particularly enjoyed the ability for student input. “I liked that we could get an audience response to his work.” Reflecting on which poem was her favorite, she highlighted “Buckeye. “My favorite poem was about how Ohio is used as a fill-in state. The poems were funny and relatable.”

For Abbott and students alike, a cathartic, enriching experience was had by all.

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1 Comment

  1. I really enjoyed the Abbott article. It was very informative and entertaining. I personally had never heard of Abbott but was impressed with his body of work as presented in the article.

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