CHARLESTON, S.C.—Washington College's Vice President for College Relations and Marketing, Meredith Davies Hadaway, participated in Charleston’s prestigious Spoleto Festival on June 3, reading from her new book of poems, The River is a Reason. She was part of the Sundown Poetry Series, organized by the city’s Piccolo Spoleto, a companion festival that highlights outstanding local and regional artists during the 17-day run of the Spoleto Festival.
“I was honored to be part of a festival that has cultivated such an enthusiastic and dedicated audience for poetry,” says Hadaway of her reading, where listeners filled the brick courtyard of Charleston’s historic Dock Street Theatre.
Published in January by Word Press, The River Is a Reason is Hadaway’s second book of poetry. One poem in the collection was selected by the distinguished poet Mark Doty for honorable mention in the 2010 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry contest. Two others were nominated for Pushcart Prizes. A fourth received honorable mention in the New Millennium Writings awards. This year Hadaway also received an Individual Artist Award from The Maryland State Arts Council.
"As they balance between the everyday and the mysterious, as they flow between praise and lament, these poems are dignified throughout by a master’s feel for sentence and line,” poet Peter Campion, editor of Literary Imagination, the journal of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, wrote of the collection.
Hadaway, says her muse and preoccupation is the Chester River. “I live 30 feet from the river and it permeates everything I do,” she says. “The tide is an amazing pulse and provides a rhythm to your day. If you live where I do, where the water is not very deep, you are always aware of it. I love that the river goes away, and thatit comes back again.”
She says that the title of her collection, though it seems a declarative statement, is really a question. In the book’s final poem, “Why the River,” she seems to answer it: “because it traps the clouds so we can sail across/ both heaven and earth/ because it carries our tears, swells/ with our salt/ because it is a body/ because it bears our weight.”