Coffee Night, lecture feature acclaimed poet Suzanne Underwood Rhodes

Acclaimed poet Suzanne Underwood Rhodes is the featured poet at Coffee Night at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.  The event is set for April 13 from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

She will also present a public lecture, “Flying Yellow: The Poet’s Imperative and the Gift of Poetry,” on Wednesday, April 14,  at 1 p.m. The events are sponsored by the Lecture Committee and the Department of Language and Literature. The public is invited to both events.  

Please register in advance for Tuesday’s Coffee Night. For Rhodes’s Wednesday talk, please register in advance for this webinar.

Rhodes has penned several collections of poetry and lyrical prose. She was formerly an adjunct professor of creative writing at King University and Old Dominion University, and associate editor for the Sow’s Ear Review. Register in advance for the virtual events webinars: Tuesday’s Coffee Night. 

A long-time supporter of Coffee Night and our second featured poet, Rhodes will return with her new collection of poems, Flying Yellow. As with every art, the creative mind gathers material that both distresses and uplifts. Flying Yellow is packed with the art of loving and living “for such a time as this.” Weaving simple words into magic lines, Rhodes takes the reader into an enlightening gallery of interconnected relations between loss and bliss and sheds light on the “glory of the hidden,” accompanied by sudden awareness and turn of grace: “love can grow so large no life can hold it.”

Rhodes’s talk, “Flying Yellow: The Poet’s Imperative and the Gift of Poetry,” will address the relation of inner experience to the external world and the gift of poetry for self-renewal in the face of dark times. Her talk seeks to answer these questions: How can we honor the gift of poetry when it's hard to hear the still, small voice within, for the rage and roar of personal, political, and social upheavals without? How can we as artists regain our focus and sense of vocation when the ennui of isolation from the pandemic is so disheartening and disorienting? Considering the immutable qualities of the imaginative life, Rhodes will describe how the poems in her new book Flying Yellow represent resistance to the ominous forces that conspire against the will to create. It’s resistance we as poets raise through the beauty, truth and transcendent power of language. 

Rhodes’s poems have been nominated for the Pushcart prize and have won several awards. Her poems and essays appear regularly in journals, books, and anthologies, such as The Windhover, Slant, Image, Alaska Quarterly Review, Christian CenturyShenandoah, The Writing Room, Words and Quilts, and others. Formerly a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she served on the executive committee of the Poetry Society of Virginia. She also guest-edited the fall 2020 issue of Sow’s Ear.  

She now serves as parliamentarian for the Poets Roundtable of Arkansas and is scheduled to be the guest speaker for their annual Spring Celebration in April. Currently, she teaches virtual poetry workshops through the Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. A cofounder of the Appalachian Center for Poets and Writers, Rhodes has conducted numerous workshops on writing and the imagination for teachers and students and has written a critical guide for student poets, The Roar on the Other Side (Canon Press)She holds an MFA from the John Hopkins University. Besides teaching and writing poetry, she also does freelance writing and editing. She recently moved with her husband Wayne from Virginia Beach to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to be near their grandson. 

Coffee Night also features "Spring Highland Voices: Writers and Performers of the College and Community.” Because of the virtual format of this spring’s event, we are regrettably unable to invite all contributors. A shorter program of readings will be forthcoming. For information on participating in Coffee Night via Zoom, please contact Autumn Bailey, Jimson Weed managing editor, at and Rosa Bott, Media Services Coordinator, at

Suzanne Rhodes’s new book Flying Yellow is available at the UVA Wise bookstore. Students will receive cultural activities credit for attendance.

For more information, contact Kathy Still, Communications Director and College Spokesperson, (276) 376-1027.