The readings of Railtown

The audience at the Weber County Library.

There has been lots of activism in regards to the Great Salt Lake. Many gathered to hear local writers talk about their written work in regard to this issue. Local poets Joel Long and Nan Seymour read their work in front of an audience on June 7 in an auditorium at the Weber County Library.

The second event of its kind this year, Railtown Readings is an event put on in collaboration with an organization called Weber Book Links and the library itself to support local writers. It helps build up the community that already exists among poets, writers and readers in the Ogden area.

This event was moderated by a Weber State professor, Sunni Wilkinson. Wilkinson is not only an English and writing professor, but also a published and respected poet in her own right. She has published two books under different publishers and also teaches poetry.

Wilkinson introduced the two presenting poets, who write about a certain type of poetry — ecopoetry. Ecopoetry is poetry with a specific type of message — that of an ecological message. She introduced Seymour and Long respectively as being two champions in that brand of poetry.

First, Seymour read from her recently published collection of poetry, “Prayers Not Meant For Heaven.”

“I had to reclaim and redefine what prayer was for me,” Seymour said at the start of her reading. “I decided it was ‘consecrated attention.’ That is why I wrote these poems.”

Although that spiritual attention was given to her poems, Seymour stayed on message by discussing her ecopoetry. She read poems about topics ranging from the Garden of Eden to leopard slugs mating and what a beautiful aspect of nature it was.

She concluded her poetic reading with a poem about her one-year vigil to the Great Salt Lake. Citing the recent Netflix original film “Don’t Look Up” as inspiration, she spoke about how generations will look back when we had the lake and that we should cherish it.

Next up was Long. Long was a well-traveled writer and had traveled to such places as France and Costa Rica. Long encouraged the audience to never lose emphasis on the beauty found in Utah.

“I have loved visiting places like Costa Rica and other places, but the sublime is here in Utah,” Long said. “There is beauty in our home.”

Long went on to share his poetry of nature from beekeepers of Notre Dame to even an ode to a science teacher entitled “Dissection.” He even shared a personal essay about The Great Saltair burning in 1970.

At the conclusion of the poetry readings, audience members were invited to share their own work in a special open mic session. Poems ranged from topics about nature and even the deepest ponderings of the heart.

“We live near holy places,” Wilkinson said at the conclusion of the readings. “Sacredness is in the place that we live.”