June 18, 2024

Imagine this: a room filled with eager college students to hear a great up-and-coming poet. The man carries a unique swagger as he has on tattered shoes, a pair of ripped jeans, necklaces, bracelets and rings. As the poet stands at the front of the room reading, he rocks back and forth as his body feels each and every word he is reading. The words rush off his tongue into an awaiting silence. Slight gasps and impressed noises fill the air after the poet pauses. On Sept. 20, this happened as Wittenberg alumni Chuck Carlise, ’99, returned to present his newest work of poetry called “In One Version of the Story.”

After graduating from Wittenberg, Carlise went on to get his Master’s degree from the University of California Davis. Carlise then went on to teach and work across America before getting his Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Today, besides publishing his works and traveling around the country to present it, he is on the faculty of Merrill College at UC-Santa Cruz.

Carlise’s poetry was professed to be dark and it did not disappoint.

“I liked that bit where he talked about having to go into the darkness and find what it is,” Mackenzie Swank, ‘20, said.

His work was based off a teenage girl who was found dead in a river in Paris and through a death mask became famous enough that her face is now used upon the C.P.R. dummies.

The work really made students think with lines like, “The self does not have a face, the body does.”

With this kind of work, questions were endless at the end of his reading. Most of his questions had to deal with some of the statements like the one above. Carlise smiled to all of the questions as he wants and expects people to question his work.

“Rather than give the answer, the goal is to have the question asked in a more pointed way,” Carlise said.

Adding an interesting twist to the evening, Carlise read his first work he ever published, which was written his senior year of college. It was quite the poem speaking on washed up towns and forgetful places. Carlise then read a work that he is currently working on putting together. This poem about life drew the reader in and left them reaching for more.

The evening left a great impression on the audience and left students wondering where the world could take them after graduation.

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