By Allison Campbell-Jensen
As David Mura stood behind the podium in Elmer L. Andersen Library, he remembered that it was not far from there that he had his first public reading, as a student poet.
That 1976 reading took place in an art gallery — and, it was noted, the Andersen Library had not yet been built on the West Bank; it didn’t open until spring 2000. This afternoon, however, Mura was standing inside Andersen Library delivering the 13th annual Pankake Poetry reading.
The event is named in honor of retired librarian Marcia Pankake, whose love of poetry was demonstrated in the countless readings and poetry events she hosted at the University Libraries. The event represents the public face of a significant University Libraries collection — the Upper Midwest Literary Archives — which preserves and provides access to the personal or organizational papers of authors, poets, critics, presses, and others whose work has been influenced by the Upper Midwest.
Mura has written four books of poetry. Along with those poetry collections — “The Last Incantations,” “Angels for the Burning,” “The Colors of Desire” (Carl Sandburg Award, Chicago Public Libraries), and “After We Lost Our Way” (National Poetry Contest winner) — he has written memoirs, criticism, and the upcoming collection of essays on race, history and narrative, “The Master’s House: The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself,” which will be published by the University of Minnesota Press in fall 2022.
During his presentation, Mura proceeded to illustrate his finesse as a literary light with a constellation of poems introduced with integrity, grace, and wit.
Taking it all in were Friends of the University Libraries, literary lovers, and past Pankake Poetry reading speakers: Margaret Hasse, Ed Bok Lee, Jim Lenfestey, and Bao Phi.