One of Utah’s great poet’s, Joel Long, read sections of his most popular book “Winged Insects” in SC 206 on Jan. 28 as part of the “Happenings in Humanities” event.
The work from which he read won him the “Mayor’s Artist Award for Literary Arts” at The Utah Arts Festival. His poems have been published in many magazines across the nation and he is a beloved Utah artist.
Along with reading his poems, Long spoke of his writing process and shared the stories behind his poems.
“For a poet to read his poems, that’s easy, but for a poet to talk about his life as a poet, now that’s a bit harder,” Long said.
His readings started with one of his older poems entitled “Waking with Sarah”. The subject of his poem is his second oldest child, who is now 16 although he wrote the poem when she was just two years old.
His readings continued to feature his family as he shared another poem inspired by his oldest daughter Hannah.
“I’m constantly seeing the world in metaphor. It’s how I understand the world, and how I read it,” Long said.
His newest project involves art history, a passion from his past. Long has taught art history and enjoys writing poems to help him understand the art better. He is currently working with a Salt Lake City artist named Dave Hall.
When asked what drew him into writing poetry, Long told about the teacher who initially inspired him named James Doyle.
He described him as a heavyset man with no front teeth because he didn’t believe in cosmetics. He spoke with a thick Brooklyn accent, and he read poems with energy and vigor. These characteristics influenced Long cultivate a love for poetry.
Students who attended felt inspired by Long’s delightful, energetic personality. Two attendees who were taught by him in high school were thrilled to hear him speak. Those present were encouraged pursuing their own ambitions in all artforms.