The University of New Mexico’s Honors College kicked off their Discovery Lecture Series Friday with their second Poetry Takeover of the school year.

The first ever poetry takeover was such a large success in the fall of 2017, that it was given the honor of being the first Honors lecture of 2018.

Featuring poems written by Honors College faculty and poets A.J. Odasso and Nora Hickey, the performance took place in the Honors College Forum.



First to share her poetry was Nora Hickey, whose work has been published in a variety of magazines, such as the Bennington Review, the Massachusetts Review, Guernica and DIAGRAM.

Originally from Wisconsin, Hickey currently speaks in an Albuquerque podcast called “City on the Edge,” and teaches at UNM’s Honors College. She has an MFA in writing with a specialization in poetry.

Hickey shared two types of poems with the audience.

The first group of poems were “inspired by the mundane” and pondered the death of an ant, meat, steam rooms and buying flowers, she said.

Hickey’s next series of poems were inspired by the 1892 diary entries of a man who moved to New Mexico from Nebraska. Hickey said she wrote these poems, because she felt she had a connection with this man, being from another state herself.

Hickey both silenced the room and filled it with laughter while reading her poems.

The next poet, AJ Odasso, also has her MFA in creative writing with a specialization in poetry and is a writer and editor of speculative poetry — poetry that falls outside of the mainstream.

Odasso has had three of her poetry collections published and has been featured in a variety of magazines. Her work was also shortlisted for the 2017 Sexton Prize.

Odasso read her work to the audience directly from the magazines in which they were published.

Her poetry is most often inspired by personal experiences, including “illness, family, intersection of gender and the medical,” as well as religion and a cruel breakup, she said.

“I’m a combination of very regimented and very chaotic,” Odasso said on her writing organization. “For the writing of prose, I have to be more regimented, and with poetry, it’s incredibly chaotic. I might just be walking across town, and suddenly a line or two will pop into my head, and I’ll quickly have to get out my phone. It’s very emotionally driven, almost whims.”

Like Odasso, Hickey’s writing process is also unorganized, and she often has trouble when it comes to making herself write.

“Something will strike me, whether an image or a line, and I collect them, and I don’t really do anything with them until I make the concerted effort,” Hickey said. “I have trouble making myself write, but I feel bad when I don’t.”

Both authors said they dream of being published in Poetry Magazine.

Additionally, Odasso aspires to be featured in the U.K.’s Poetry Review, and Hickey hopes to be featured in The Believer, they said.

Timber Mabes is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @timbermabes.