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TCC faculty speaks his truth through poetry

Tidewater Community College English instructor Daniel “D.L.” Pearlman has a way with words.

In the last two years, his poetry has received five awards, including the 2019 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize for his book of poetry, “Normal They Napalm the Cottonfields.”  The prize was presented to Pearlman in December at the Dogfish Inn.

Pearlman also received the 2019 first-place award from the Poetry Society of Virginia (PSoV) for his poem “When Morning Comes After Noon.”

Founded in 1923 at William and Mary, the PSoV is the second oldest state poetry society in the nation, sponsoring contests annually for students and adults.

“My work evolves out of my passion for old and decaying things – including farmhouses and other structures,” Pearlman said. “I enjoy spending weekends traveling the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina to find hidden treasures. I see beauty in the decay and my writing can reflect that back and relate it to the human experience.”

On his travels, Pearlman takes photos of broken-down houses, cars and tractors to inspire his work.

“My approach can be brutal, intense and often surreal,” Pearlman said. “I’m not afraid to confront difficult things – even death. But my work is not dark; it’s hopeful.”

Pearlman teaches English composition courses at the college’s Chesapeake Campus. He is also on the planning team and will read his works during the college’s Literary Festival in April.

While Pearlman does not share his writing with students in class, he does talk about the process to aid in building critical thinking skills. “We often talk about how personal experiences and current events shape our thinking and beliefs,” he said. “We discuss issues like preservation of natural resources, the beauty of nature, importance of local history and the impact of industry, just to name a few. My travels certainly add to our discussions.”

Pearlman’s other recent awards include the Don Frew Contest, First Place; Ada Sanderson Contest, Second Place; and Emma Gray Gregg Contest, Second Place.

“When Morning Comes After Noon”
by D.L. Pearlman

Inside a barn with no roof,
inside a line of trees and a field

the sun and clouds still farm, I touch
a rusted revolver sleeping like a dead

kitten, its barrel pocked as if bitten
by fleas desperate for blood.

Under diagonal shafts of sun,
there’s nothing left in the stalls

except assumptions like
this farm does not deserve to be forgotten

or the messenger does not deserve
to be shot in the mouth.

In the barren center of the shadowed silo,
crossroads of fear and elation,

I find the absence of time

When evening lives at odds with
the concept of darkness during day,

where work made heat and where
no gravestones whisper, the long

dirt road gives its arms away
to what may come and what may remain.

Literary Festival to be a celebration of written and spoken words

Tidewater Community College’s 18th annual Literary Festival reflects the theme “A Celebration of Written and Spoken Words” with keynote speaker Zelda Lockhart, author, expressive arts therapist and teacher.

Zelda Lockhart
Zelda Lockhart

The week-long festival from April 1-4 features Lockhart on April 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the Portsmouth Campus Student Center.

Events are free and open to the public.

Lockhart, a former English instructor at the college’s Portsmouth Campus, is a registered expressive arts consultant and educator. Her latest book, “The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript,” invites you to take the “stuff” that makes a mess of your life and use it productively.

Lockhart is director of Her Story Garden Studios, which inspires black women to self-define, heal and liberate through the literary arts.

Luisa Igloria
Luisa Igloria

Luisa Igloria

 April 1 at 12:30 p.m., Black Box Theater, Chesapeake Academic Building

The professor of creative writing and English at Old Dominion University is the author of 14 books of poetry and four chapbooks. Igloria has received various national and international literary awards, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including New England Review; The North American Review; PRISM International (Canada); and The Asian Pacific American Journal.


Jon Pineda
Jon Pineda

Jon Pineda

April 2 at 12:30 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Campus, Joint-Use Library, 2nd Floor

The poet, memoirist and novelist won the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition for his first book, “Birthmark.” His other collections include “The Translator’s Diary,” winner of the Green Rose Prize, and “Little Anodynes,” winner of the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Award for poetry.

Pineda’s honors and awards include a Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship. Currently, he teaches creative writing at the College of William and Mary.

Jesse Saperstein
Jesse Saperstein

Jesse Saperstein

April 3 at 12:30 p.m. – Norfolk Campus Student Center, 5th Floor

Jesse Saperstein is the author of the best-selling memoir “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters,” published in 2010. Saperstein strives to put a face on Asperger’s syndrome to make his readers laugh, empathize and better understand what it means to see the world through the prism of autism.

Diagnosed with the mild form of autism at 14, Saperstein struggled with many of the hallmark challenges of the condition, from social awkwardness and self-doubt to extreme difficulty in dealing with change and managing emotions. Saperstein shares his unique perspective on topics such as overcoming bullying, finding purpose and strength, coping with compulsions and making peace with ritualistic obsessions.