KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Students in an advanced undergraduate poetry class poured emotion into words, hoping to comfort the mother of Zaevion Dobson, the Knoxville teen who died shielding three friends from gunfire.
The poems were compiled into a memorial packet and mailed to Zenobia Dobson last week. They held a public reading Thursday that Zenobia attended.
“It was different hearing them in person, but I already expected it because I got emotional when I read them,” she said. “It’s awesome. It’s a gift from God, and I’m very appreciative of it.”
Thirteen students wrote the poems after their professor told them Dobson’s story. The 15-year-old Fulton High School football player was killed by gunfire when police say a group of men randomly fired shots into a crowd in December. Dobson was shielding three female friends from bullets when he was killed.
“I will never totally be able to feel the pain she felt in losing her son, but I have a mother who lost a son, so through my mother’s pain of losing a son I can get an idea,” said student Clinton Ricks. “I had to unlock a few emotions that I had stored away from my tragic loss, so I’m just like if I do this here then hopefully I’ll be true to myself and to her. Like I said it will never fill the void that Zaevion’s death has left within her but hopefully, you know it can help a little.”
In a release from the university, one of the students said four months after Dobson’s death, the pain is likely still fresh for his family.
“He was a good kid, and writing about him was good for everyone,” Nick Bendick said. “We wanted to offer this gesture of kindness to his mother.”
Web Extra: Read the poems [PDF]
The students spent months revising the poems, and recently when professor Marilyn Kallet put some early drafts in the recycling bin, an office janitor left a note saying how beautiful they were.
“I just want to thank the students, thank the teacher, and thank everyone who just thinks of him. :08 and when I think of him I have a lot of joy in my heart always, so thank you,” said Zenobia Dobson.