Rapper, educator, and poet: these words all describe author Nate Marshall who visited Columbus, Indiana for a series of appearances on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. He is the third artist to appear in the Poet-in-Residence series after previous poets Kaveh Akbar and Adrian Matejka. Marshall’s appearance was sponsored by several organizations including the Bull Dog Alumni Association, the Bartholomew County Public Library, the African American Fund of the Heritage Fund, and the Columbus Area Arts Council.

Mr. Marshall made three different appearances while he was in Columbus. He started off the day by doing a convocation for North students in the Auditorium in the morning where he read from his two books of poems, Finna and Wild Hundreds. The presentation was interactive as the poet not only read excerpts from his books, but also took numerous questions from about five hundred students who enthusiastically responded to his poems and queried him about his work, his inspirations, and his creative process.

Three Columbus North teachers, Barbara Handt (English), Leslie Weaver (Fine Arts) and Keith Burton (Music) combined to create a cross-curricular approach for the presentation. The art students read some of Nate Marshall’s poems before his presentation, then created art inspired by the poems which was on display outside of the auditorium. Music, art, and English students all attended the presentation.

The poet then conducted a teacher education workshop after school for the English Department teachers. The teachers practiced doing creative writing and journaling. They also learned tips for writing invention techniques to use with students in the classroom.

Finally, in the evening, the poet participated in a reading and discussion of his poems at the Commons Mall. He read poems from both of his books as well as some new poems he was developing. There was a reception hosted by the Columbus Area Arts Council and the Bartholomew County Public Library before his presentation which included food, poetry readings by local poets, and screening of artwork created by Columbus North art students.

The day ended with book signings by the author sponsored by Viewpoint Books. All in all, it was a once in a lifetime experience for students, teachers, administrators, and community members to meet and workshop with award winning author and educator Nate Marshall. Mr. Marshall is scheduled to return to Columbus in June 2024 to participate in a curriculum writing workshop with teachers in the English Department.