Literature and Poetry

When a "Punk Kid" Connected With a Freedom Fighter

Jul 7, 2016


Josh Poteat is an award-winning poet whose work is inspired in part by Richmond’s past. In this excerpt of one of his poems, Poteat commemorates an enslaved blacksmith and freedom fighter named Gabriel who was born near Richmond. Gabriel was executed by hanging in 1800 after organizing a large slave revolt. He was pardoned by Governor Tim Kaine in 2007. In the second audio segment below, Poteat shares about his personal experience connecting with Gabriel and with punk music.

Excerpted from:

Girls of Summer

Jul 23, 2014

School summer reading lists are infamous.  Required books that you drag around all summer, taking notes and keeping journals.  Just in time for beach season, two Richmond writers are trying to give summer reading a better name. 

When writer Gigi Amateau was a child, one of her favorite stories was The Little Match Girl.

“I remember sitting in my Grammy’s lap and she would read The Little Match Girl to me and it would wreck me every time.  And I then I would ask her to read it again, like through my tears, read it again, you know.”

John Peale Shares His Story

Apr 30, 2013

Recently, one of the nation’s best-known religious leaders announced that his 27-year-old son had committed suicide. 

Rick Warren , pastor of a mega-church in Southern California and author of the best-selling Purpose Driven Life said Matthew Warren had suffered from depression.  Here in Virginia, the son of another church superstar says he can relate.  

Emergency Poems

Apr 25, 2013
Keicy Tolbert via UVA

In an emergency, some people turn to drink, while others rely on prayer, but for a small and committed group at the University of Virginia, there’s nothing better in a crisis than poetry.  

 It was a warm spring night on the University of Virginia campus, and dozens of students and faculty members had gathered outside to celebrate Humanities Week and the power of poetry to soothe and console in a crisis. 

Professors Lisa Russ Spaar, Michael Levinson , Clare Kinney and Stephen Cushman organized the event and offered personal definitions of the emergency poem.

Man Saves Mountain

Mar 15, 2013

Jay Leutze got his law degree from the University of North Carolina, but he decided not to practice law. 

Instead, he moved to his family’s cabin on Yellow Mountain in the Roan Highlands – an area famous in geological circles for its rare grassy balds.

“Grassy balds are openings that are not above the tree line, but were not created by man, so they’re open pastures,” he explains. “We believe that they were kept open by wooly mammoths, then bison and elk, and then when European settlers came in, they were kept open by grazing cattle.”