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English 463 Students Create Poetry Chapbook in Memory of Zaevion Dobson


The poets in Dr. Marilyn Kallet’s English 463 (Advanced Poetry) course created a collection of poems in memory and tribute to Zaevion Dobson.


Dobson was a 15-year-old football player at Fulton High School, in Knoxville, TN, who was killed in December when he shielded three of his friends from bullets fired randomly into a crowd of students celebrating the holiday break. In an interview with CNN, Kiara Rucker, one of the three teens saved by his heroic act, said, “If it wasn’t for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot.”

Dobson’s heroism was praised in January, when a tearful President Obama shared this story with the nation.  He concluded by saying, “He gave his life to save theirs — an act of heroism a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Kallet’s talented and empathetic 463 students composed their own heartfelt poems of condolence, directed to Mrs. Zenobia Dobson, Zaevion’s mother. Not all of the poems are included here, but most are.  The Zaevion Dobson Memorial Chapbook chapbook is available online. Dr. Kallet said of these poems, “We send these to all who knew and loved Zaevion, but also to everyone who sees him as a role model, a young hero, one who did the right thing.”

On Thursday, 4/28, at 12:45pm, in 1210 McClung Tower, the students in English 463 will read from their final manuscripts. The Zaevion poems will be included in the mix of poems of love and hope, sorrow, protest, and history. Dr. Marilyn Kallet will share the poem she has written for the occasion as well.

Cover with note


Discovering an early draft of the chapbook in the recycling bin, a staff member from building services was moved by the poems and left this note for Dr. Kallet.

The cover of the chapbook was designed by another of Dr. Kallet’s students, Elysia Mann, who is also a graduate student in printmaking.  The design of the cover includes the number “24,” which was the number on Dobson’s football jersey.


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