• Studying world language and linguistics at Carson-Newman has had a profound effect on my life, both overtly (I can now speak three languages and live in Austria), and subtly (giving me new perspectives on viewing common problems).
    Theresa Anderson, 2017 / English Teaching Assistant / Landesschulrat für Steiermark, Austria

Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Poetry Reading to feature Kimberly L. Becker

Campus News | September 19, 2021
Celebrated poet and author Kimberly L. Becker will be featured during C-N's 12th Annual Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Poetry Reading, Oct. 29.

Click for info. on Homecoming 2021!

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman University will host poet and author Kimberly L. Becker for its 12th Annual Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Poetry Reading Friday, Oct. 29 during Homecoming week.

The reading will take place at 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Kimberly L. Becker is a poet who celebrates the power of words to unite us, to comfort us, to heal us, and to honor the beautiful diversity of God’s creation,” said Appalachian Cultural Center Director Jennifer Hall. “Kimberly is an ideal voice to help us celebrate the legacy of Professor Henrietta Jenkins whose work also celebrated the power of words to unite our communities and our world.”

Of mixed descent, including Cherokee, Becker is an author of four poetry collections: “Words Facing East” and “The Dividings” (WordTech Editions), “The Bed Book” (Spuyten Duyvil), and “Flight” (MadHat Press). Becker’s individual poems appear widely in journals and anthologies, including Indigenous Message on Water; Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence; and Tending the Fire: Native Voices and Portraits.

She has held grants from Maryland, North Carolina, and New Jersey and residencies at Hambidge, Weymouth, and Wildacres. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

“Poetry is witness: to an individual's life, but also to the world in which we exist interdependently with other beings, whether bodies of water or bodies of people,” Becker said. “As a creative act, poetry can also be resistance and survivance. I write to claim my own truth and to honor my Cherokee heritage.”

Born in Georgia and raised in North Carolina, Becker has read her poems to audiences at venues including The National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. and Busboys and Poets, a hub for social change through artistry.

Becker’s service within communities reinforces her inspiring words, having worked as mentor for PEN America's Prison Writing and AWP's Writer to Writer programs. She has also adapted traditional Cherokee stories for Cherokee Youth in Radio.

Along with the poetry reading, Becker will dedicate time directly to Carson-Newman students in the classroom. She will speak to an English 101 course and meet with Creative Writing Poetry students. 

No stranger to Carson-Newman University, Becker was honored at the Appalachian Cultural Center’s “An Evening with Kimberly L. Becker” in 2016.

Mary Patton Sarros, a 1963 alumna, established the Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Poetry Reading in 2009 in honor of her former professor.

The reading will be in Carson-Newman’s Thomas Recital Hall along Russell Avenue. Masks are requested.

Carson-Newman will celebrate Homecoming 2021 on Saturday, Oct. 30. Events are planned throughout the week. Click here for more information or to register for events.