A! Magazine for the Arts

Helen Lewis

Helen Lewis

Activist poet speaks at library

May 29, 2018

Helen Matthews Lewis reads poems from her new chapbook, “The Nature of things: Poems of Flora and Protest” Sunday, June 3, at 3 p.m. at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon, Va. The event is part of the “Sunday with Friends” series of literary events.

Lewis is an activist, sociologist and public intellectual who has written a series of poems addressing social issues. At 94, she observes, “As I got too old to sit down in front of bulldozers in protest, I began writing poems of protest.”

Her poems focus on the flowers, weeds and flowering trees that abound in her native south and central Appalachia, from the earliest spring redbud trees and forsythia, to the intruder Bradford Pear, through summer’s Queen Anne’s lace, and that harbinger of fall, Joe Pye weed.

The book is illustrated by watercolor drawings by her friend, Patricia Beaver, to reflect the sentiment of the poems. Beaver is an anthropologist, watercolorist, and editor with Judi Jennings of “Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia.”

Book sale and signing follows. Sunday with Friends is sponsored by the Friends of the Washington County Public Library.