Powerful poet, fiction, and non-fiction writer Lauren K. Alleyne

As the Spring Literary Festival draws closer, the list of attending authors continues to grow. Among that list of authors is poet, fiction, and non-fiction writer, Lauren K. Alleyne,  who will be reading from her first collection of poems titled Difficult Fruit on Tuesday, April 5, at 12 p.m. in the UC Theater.

American Poet, Photo from Google Images

Lauren K. Alleyne, American Poet Photo from Google Images

Alleyne was born on the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and she is currently the Poet-in-Residence and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.

Not only are her poems full of emotion and prodigious language, her literary track record is nothing short of impressive. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies from Cornell University. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been illustriously published in journals and anthologies all around the world. These journals and anthologies include Black Arts Quarterly, Women’s Studies Quarterly, The Caribbean Writer, The Crab Orchard Review, Belleview Literary Review, The Banyan Review, Let Spirit Speak, Guernica, and Growing Up Girl and Gathering Ground, among many others

A graduate of Cave Canem, an American foundation known for its remedying of the under-representation and isolation of African-American poets in MFA programs and writing workshops across the United States, Alleyne has been awarded numerous prizes for her work, including the 2010 Small Axe Literary Prize, a 2012 Lyrical Iowa Award, an Atlantic Monthly Student Poetry Prize, the Atlanta Review’s International Publication Prize, an honorable mention in the 2009 Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize, and the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

Alleyne’s first and only collection of poems, Difficult Fruit, illustrates the “fruits” of passage into womanhood, and this includes the good fruits, the bad ones, and everything in between. This journey encompasses coming to terms with sexual violence and loss, commemorating love and connection, and bearing witness to the world that shaped her voyage. Full of vulnerability, doubt, conviction, and hope, Alleyne’s poetic voice conveys the beauty that can be found in even the core of human duress, and she provides readers with the chilling truths of what it is to grow up an African-American woman in a troubled world while simultaneously displaying her undying trust in an imagined heaven.

Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne Photo from Google Images

Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne
Photo from Google Images

Alleyne’s poems have great power and her words could even be described as graceful, yet they are strong enough to grab your attention entirely. In an interview with Nicelle Davis, Alleyne explains that she is inspired by poems such as Anne Sexton’s “For My Lover, Returning To His Wife,” and stories by Jamaica Kincaid which Alleyne says “totally shook her imagination loose” and got her thinking on “the nature of strange, and how strangeness summons our imaginative power.”

Although Alleyne doesn’t necessarily put such “strangeness” into her own writing, she continuously touches on other commanding topics such as minority prejudices, rape, womanhood, grief, love, and life, and her words really bring these situations to the forefront of ones mind.

Jacquelyn Colecio, one of the interns for the Spring Literary Festival, says that Alleyne’s words really resonate with her as a person, and she is beyond excited to hear her speak.

“As a part of the Hispanic community, I can really connect with the struggles of being a minority. After reading Difficult Fruit, I felt that her words left me raw and riddled with emotion, and I just can’t wait to meet this woman who can write so powerfully.” Jacquelyn continued on to explain that Alleyne’s poetic voice is what truly captured her and, of course, the subject matter really hit home.

Alleyne’s collection of poems will appeal to those of all departments on WCU’s campus, especially to students involved in Intercultural Affairs, and to anyone who can relate to minority struggles.