I’ll Admit I Was Distracted By Their Shoes


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Mary Vermillion, professor of English at Mount Mercy University, speaks at the Writers Resist event at Coe College.

I attended an interesting event Jan. 15 at Coe College. It was “Writers Resist,” part of a national movement. The day before Martin Luther King Day, writers gathered to “defend the ideas of a free, just and compassionate democratic society.”

Donald Trump was never mentioned by name, but he was sort of the patron nemesis of the event.

The first writer to speak was Mary Vermillion, one of my faculty colleagues at Mount Mercy University. She read a poem she recently wrote, and then a prose piece that described her coming out in the early 1990s.

One powerful part of Mary’s prose piece, I thought, was the connection she had with her father, who shared some of his Korean War experience to her as a way of trying to be authentic with who he is, just as his daughter was being honest about who she is.

I didn’t take notes during the writers’ readings, but I did feel like I was among kindred spirits. They read some Whitman, some contemporary poetry, some original works of both prose and poetry. One Coe student sang a song she had written the day before.

One reaction I had to the event was a sense of hope. Even as the culture cools to change, these people aren’t going anywhere. They are steadfast in standing up for expression and honesty and tolerance.

And they wore an interesting variety of shoes, too.

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