• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Former UK baseball player to read poetry at library today

DORIAN HAIRSTON, a 24-year-old Lexington poet who played baseball for the University of Kentucky, says he’s looking forward to the “Roots and Wings Poetry Slam” at the Woodford County Library this evening at 6. He describes poetry as an opportunity to share a story. (Photo by Reecie Herron)

Dorian Hairston describes writing and reading a really good poem – one that resonates with a reader or listener – as equally fulfilling as the walk-off home run he hit on Mother’s Day to beat the University of South Carolina in 2016.

Hairston, a former outfielder for the University of Kentucky, says he’s never read his poetry in Versailles, but agreed to participate in this evening’s “Roots and Wings Poetry Slam” at the Woodford County Library beginning at 6.

The event happens during National Poetry Month, which compelled Hairston to say “yes” when asked to participate as a special guest poet in the library’s second-ever poetry slam.

“Any opportunity to read poetry publicly during the month of April – or generally at any point in time – is one that I tend to jump on,” said Hairston, who’s finishing his master of fine arts degree at the University of Kentucky.

The Lexington resident will also introduce others who want to read poetry (they love or have written themselves) at the library’s poetry slam.

“I’ve always been drawn to storytelling,” says Hairston, 24.

After someone reads or hears his poetry being read, Hairston says he hopes to compel them to make this a better place and also share the story with someone else.

At this evening’s poetry slam, Hairston says he plans to read poetry from his recently-completed thesis, “Pretend the Ball is Named Jim Crowe,” a series of poems exploring the life and legacy of Josh Gibson. He played professional baseball in the Negro Leagues and has been credited with hitting more than 800 home runs during his career.

Hairston, who was mentored by Affrilachian poet Frank X Walker, one of his professors at the University of Kentucky, says he hopes to teach high school English and publish his collection of poetry about Josh Gibson’s life and legacy.

Still attached to the national pastime as a coach and brother of a professional baseball player, Hairston says he wants his words to remind readers that a poet can play a sport – as he did at UK – and still influence others with the written word.

The Woodford County Library hosted its first-ever poetry slam last November “and it was a smashing success,” says adult services librarian Emily Soderholm.

Community interest led to the inaugural poetry slam, with up to 40 people reciting their poetry, she says.

Anyone interested in reading a poem and competing for prizes or those wanting to attend the “Roots and Wings Poetry Slam” can sign up for the free program by calling the library at 873-5191 or visiting woodfordcountylibrary.com online.

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