Spring Coffee Night to Feature Award-Winning Poet Sara M. Robinson

Needville book cover

UVA Wise is debuting the spring edition of the Jimson Weed with their traditional Coffee Night celebration, featuring award-winning poet and author Sara M. Robinson, who will share readings from her new book, Poetry Matters: For Better And For Verse, and her recent collection of poems, Needville.

Coffee Night will take place on Tuesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths. The event is co-sponsored by the College’s Language and Literature Department, Communication Studies Department, the lecture committee and Jimson Weed.

Robinson, along with our Jimson Weed staff members, will deliver a dramatic reading performance from Needville. This is Robinson’s fourth coffee night appearance. The collection was inspired by Robinson’s visits to the UVA Wise Campus, which motivated her to write about mining and miners’ lives, and is set in a mining town in the Appalachian coal country. She then turned the collection of poetry into a play in 2020, which will next be performed at the Lincoln Theater in Marion, Va.

James Ferguson, professor Emeritus of English at Hanover College, praises Robinson's Needville as “a remarkable work, characterized by compassion, anger, intensity, and poetic fluency. It has been a memorable experience to read these poems.” Barbara Freese, author of the New York Times Notable BookCoal: A Human History, writes, “Sara Robinson has written a fierce and moving lament for all that has been taken—from the people, from their communities, and from the mountains themselves.”

At 6:30 p.m., the Jimson Weed will showcase the creative culmination of the College’s students, faculty and the college community. Jimson Weed features poetry, prose, artwork and photography and is published biannually. The publication is now in its third decade, since its revival nearly 25 years ago. Jimson Weed has been a part of the college since 1969 and was revived a couple of times through the 70s and 80s until it finally stuck in 1998.

“Robinson’s Needville is a testament to the creative community that gathers at Coffee Night. The way we build relations, understand our choices, and help ourselves as writers and readers. It’s inspiring,” says Gillian Huang-Tiller, professor of English and faculty advisor of the Jimson Weed.

The journal gives students the opportunity to have publication experience and ultimately gives them exposure within the region. Coffee Night has been the companion of the journal since the fall of 2000, where acclaimed professional authors and contributors have the opportunity to share their work.

Students are also invited to the poet’s talk on “Mining the Mountains and Writing from Underground: Why Poetry Matters,” Wednesday, April 12, at 1:00 p.m. in the Dogwood Room on the fifth floor of the Slemp Student Center. Her lecture will highlight the significance of life in the coalfields and explore the interrelationship between mining and creative writing, and how poetry from “underground” can reawaken our connection and commitment to the ecology of the land and to our communities.

A book signing will follow both events. Sara Robinson’s poetry collection, Needville, and her new collection of poetry columns, Poetry Matters: For Better And For Verse, are available in the bookstore and at both performances. Coffee Night and the lecture are both free and open to the public. Students will receive cultural activity credit for attending.

About Sara M. Robinson

Sara M. Robinson, once an industrial Chemist, is now an award-winning poet who promotes poetry writing and workshops within the community. She was first featured at UVA Wise in 2015 and several return trips, some of which inspired her collection, Needville.

Robinson is the acclaimed author of a new collection of poetic columns, Poetry Matters: For Better And For Verse (2022) and five books of poetry: her latest, Simple River (2020), followed by her collection of poems Needville (2019); Sometimes the Little Town, based on the photography of Hobby Robinson in conjunction with the installation of his photographs at The Heritage Museum of Harrisonburg and East Rockingham, Virginia (2016, named a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Poetry Book Award for 2017); Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012, nominated for the 2012 Library of Virginia Literary Awards); and Stones for Words (2014, nominated for a 2015 Library of Virginia Literary Award). Robinson’s poems frequently appear in the online journal of the Poetry Society of Virginia, Piedmont Virginian MagazinePoetica, the 2013 Blue Ridge Anthology, among other anthologies and have received prizes from the Blue Ridge Writers Chapter and the Virginia Writers Club. She also writes for the poetry column, “Poetry Matters,” for Southern Writers Magazine and serves as co-editor of the Virginia Literary Journal. In addition to the Virginia Festival of the Book, Robinson has appeared on ArtistFirst Radio Network, the Hilda Ward Show: Artistic Expressions, and at the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. Her non-poetic works include a memoir, Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009) and a chapbook, A Cruise in Rare Water, relating a trip through the inside passage of Alaska and encounters with the spirit of the landscape and people. 

Founder of Lonesome Mountain Pros(e) Writers’ Workshop, Robinson is also a former instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA/OLLI. She also conducts a weekly poetry group at The Colonnades retirement community.

A native of Elkton in the Shenandoah Valley, she currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.