Richmond poetry miscellany/zine

This project involved researching and compiling a series of poems and images culled from Richmond’s long literary history, from the 16th century until present day. Using the works of authors the city has fostered and inspired, the finished handmade publication was distributed at various points around VCU and Richmond.

Student researcher: Addison Herron-Wheeler (B.A. ’12/H&S)

Faculty mentor: Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU Department of English

Herron-Wheeler: For my introduction to the English major class, Joshua Eckhardt had us make our own poetry miscellany based on our favorite things we read for the class. I was inspired by the idea, and I thought it would be cool to do something similar with poetry from Richmond. I really like zines and underground publications that people make, so I thought it would be a really great way to introduce poetry to a wider audience and put it in this kind of hip, accessible format.

I was impressed by how much the poetry relates to Richmond and talks about Richmond in different ways, starting as early as the 1500s. The emphasis on nature, the city in general and the skill of some of the poets, even though (besides Edgar Allen Poe and a few others) they’re not really well known, was impressive.

I think there’s room for more humanities research projects like this, so be creative and explore what you think is a cool idea, and if seems a little unconventional or intangible, go for it, because thats what sets it apart.

Eckhardt: The prospect of a Richmond verse miscellany was pretty easy to like, and it was very easy to work with Addison. She brought all the skills to it. This is hers. The only thing I did was help nominate a couple of the earliest texts, but beyond that, she did everything. She wanted to combine the zine genre that she knew and the miscellany genre that I introduced to her, but she also added this unique content requirement. I was very pleased with it. I think its great.

A project like this can be very easy if theres no process of selection. If youre just copying down poems that you happen to find, its just like making a playlist or a mix CD without thinking about whats on it. But once you start to set parameters for yourself, and then you want to say something about it, you can make it quite challenging. It all depends on how much youre trying to accomplish.

This is a research university, and thats because we have genuine researchers. Thats as true for the humanities as it is for the sciences, and its certainly true of the English department. So, if youre at a research university, even as an undergraduate student, and you dont take the opportunity to research, youre just not taking advantage of whats available.