There’s a lot of power in poetry—the medium has been used to bring life to love, loss, melancholy, ecstasy and countless other emotions. And for some, the voice of poets can become the voice of a generation.

In "Dib Dab," a poem from his 1994 collection Joker, Joker, Deuce, poet and author Paul Beatty deploys a language and structure that’s as smooth as the smooth things he’s describing. It’s a poem that resonates with Longwood students who are studying Beatty in several English department classes.

"When I read this poem, I feel rhythm and power," said Sarah Burford ’16, a senior from Virginia Beach. "This poem makes me feel like I’m coming back home," said Beasa Dukes ’16, from Cheaspeake.

Beatty is known for his razor-sharp wit and critical eye, which he wields to skewer racial politics, hypocrisy and sanctimony in his novels and poems. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a sense of humor—his books are as funny as they are poignant. His most recent work, a novel titled The Sellout, has been widely hailed as provocative and unflinching.

If you’re ready to laugh until your sides ache while being challenged to think about your community and own life from a different perspective, mark your calendar to hear Beatty on Monday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. in Longwood’s Blackwell Ballroom. He’ll be on campus  to accept the 34th John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, awarded annually by the university.

"Paul Beatty is not going to let you be comfortable, that’s for sure," said Dr. David Magill, associate professor of English and chair of the Dos Passos Prize committee. "His lecture will be full of life and loads of funny moments, but he’s going to make sure to push you beyond your boundaries. He’s a top-notch author and a fitting recipient of the Dos Passos Prize."

About the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature

The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, which is awarded annually by the Longwood University Department of English and Modern Languages, is named for the talented but often overlooked 20th-century American writer. The prize recognizes contemporary writers who employ themes that run through Dos Passos’ work: an intense and original exploration of specifically American themes, an experimental approach to form and an appreciation for a wide range of human experiences.

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