UNM Alums Express Emotion in Poetry During Lightning Lounge Event

By Lara Sullivan / New Mexico News Port

Professor of math and statistics Billy Brown introduced himself and the poetry group he hosts, Fixed and Free, at a UNM faculty Lightning Lounge on Wednesday afternoon. He read an emotionally heart wrenching poem about his young daughter, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 1996.  He wore a memorial t-shirt with a photograph of his daughter and explained how he began writing poetry as a way to cope with his grief after she died. 

“I turned to poetry as a way of expressing and processing my grief, which I think is a very healthy thing to do. Of course since then, as you might imagine, I write about a lot of other things like nature and beauty and individuals I admire.” Brown said during a question-and-answer session after the reading. 

There were three other poets who also read at the event. Retired general surgeon Sylvia Ramos Cruz read a poem she wrote expressing the importance of a woman’s right to abortion from the perpective of both the provider and the patient, and the barriers present within legislature as well as community. 

Brown then introduced Jesse Ehrenberg, another member of Fixed and Free who read a poem he authored entitled “Had They Been Black” about last year’s January 6th Capitol Hill attacks, where he illustrates the importance of race and in the handling and the response to the deadly event.

The last poet, Charles Powell read a powerful and timely piece he had written about the mask mandates and how opinions differed between individuals and communities. 

Brown hosts the group, which meets on Zoom the last Thursday of every month (except November) and “provides a relaxed, welcoming, supportive community for poets, lovers of poetry and other divine creatures, to share and enjoy the magic and power of poetry, as well as each other’s company.”

Lara Sullivan is a reporter for New Mexico News Port and can be reached at nmnewsport@gmail.com.