Poetry is Our Evolutionary Beacon
Otram Slabess Poets came together originally in Beaufort, SC in 2003 with Sheila Tombe, Fred Bassett, Warren Slesinger, and Quitman Marshall. Sheila and Fred moved away to Ireland and Greenwood, SC, respectively, some years ago, and the group has continued to evolve. Teresa Bruce and Steve Johnson were in the group for several years until 2015 when they left for DC and Chile, respectively, leaving Warren, Quitman, Jacquelyn Markham, who joined the poets in 2010; and Olivia Stiffler in 2013. We welcomed our newest member just this spring (2016), Emily Davis-Fletcher.
The group’s namesake, Slabess, a great Persian poet of the thirteenth century, echoed his own master when he said that poetry, by means of a certain determined ambiguousness, was aimed at stirring up those faculties in people that cause them to experience expansive and contractive moods and, in turn, cause great effects in the order of the world.
While each member of the group, current and emeritus, is an accomplished, published poet or prose writer, each has also labored to effect: Tombe as a theater artist, professor, and as editor of the literary journal Apostrophe; Bassett as a scholar of religion and philosophy revivifying ancient texts; Marshall as a host of the literary series at the Spoleto Festival; Slesinger as the founding editor and publisher of the Bench Press; Bruce as a print and television journalist and filmmaker; Johnson as a visual and performance artist; Markham as a scholar and flutist; Olivia Stiffler, bird watcher and Missourian; and newcomer Emily Davis-Fletcher, teacher and activist.
“Poetry is not a form of entertainment, and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but our anthropological, genetic goal, our linguistic, evolutionary beacon.”
Joseph Brodsky, poet and inspiration