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Texas Veteran overcoming trauma, connecting community through poetry

Aaron Rollins.jpeg
Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-10 06:14:00-04

WACO, Texas — “Rose is a rose is a rose...” They're three different words, from one poem – Gertrude Stein’s “Sacred Emily”

"Let’s think about it.”

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose"
Gertrude Stein's poem Sacred Emily,1922

Aaron Rollins is an administrator and a member of the Waco Poets Society.

“You define a rose,” Rollins said. “What is a rose? Well, a rose is a rose."

In analyzing the meaning of those three words in Stein’s “Sacred Emily," Rollins says he’s reminded of a variety of ways a specific person can interpret poetry.

"You can look at it literally or transform it into something that has broader application,” Rollins said. "Can you change a rose? No. A rose is a rose."

A spark of thought leads to a fusion of the emotions in our hearts with the ideas in our heads.

"I am who I am and I am who I am I can't change that," said Rollins.

Rollins works at the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Temple.

"I define poetry as a medium to express feelings that I can't express in other ways," he said.

Aaron Rollins is an administrator of the Waco Poets Society and Veteran.

Rollins said the organization provides a platform where a plethora of perspectives is shared. People share poems about the beauty connecting us.

"Appreciation of beauty; stuff like nature or in people," he said. To the grey areas of division that remain.

"Relationship stuff. Lots of relationship stuff," said Rollins.

Experiences of people who perhaps feel alone in the dark.

"We have people who are sexual abuse victims. Mental health patients," Rollins said.

To those who perhaps, feel invisible.

Semper Fi Fund logo on Aaron Rollins shirt.

"My first deployment was 3rd Battalion, six Marines over to the Al Anbar province in Iraq,” Rollins said. “And my second deployment was with a combat advising team in Afghanistan."

For Rollins, talking about his past just wouldn’t be possible on the street.

"I just can't walk out to somebody and be like, 'hey, I'm Christopher Aaron Rollins. I was hit by an IED blast in June of 2008. How are you doing'?" he said.

His pain may be hard to put into sentences on the street. But through poetry, a few words can say a lot about his past.

"I'm giving my hip and knee,” Rollins said. “I'm always in pain. I have hearing loss. It's hard for me to drive at night because."

From the platform, perspective of his past.

“So poetry has allowed me to get those feelings out and become a better-adjusted person."

But maybe down from the platform we can see they’re saying more about his future and see poetry changing lives right here in Waco.

This month the Waco Poets Society will have two events.

Jubilee Theater

The first is an open mic this Saturday at the Jubilee Theatre from 6-8 p.m.

The second event will be at Cultivate 712 in the undercroft on April 23 from 6-8 p.m.