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- Putting the university to the test
Professors share poetry at ninth annual faculty poetry reading
“To have great poets, there must be great audiences too,” Walt Whitman, the famous poet, once said. Remarkable poets and listeners were present on April 20 for the ninth annual faculty poetry reading. Quinnipiac English professors Tim Dansdill, Mark Johnston, David Zucker and David Cole read their original works to students, faculty members and the public in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room. Mancheski was filled to capacity for this free event and followed by a reception.
Quinnipiac University English professor Mary Segall founded the event in 1996 and continues to be actively involved in its organization. The roster of readers alters year by year though some, like Professor Johnston, are veterans and have participated since the debut recitation.
Professor Dansdill, who has taught poetry to everyone from high school students to prison inmates, was the first to read his poetry on an assorted array of topics ranging from childhood experiences to marriage. Included in his selected works was a poem titled “Grim Reapers,” which was recently published in an academic journal.
The professors find themselves motivated to write on all ideas and topics.
“My students inspire my poetry and my having been a student inspires me,” Mark Johnston, chair of the English Department, said. “Things that I read, other poems and things I remember about youth, family, kids and grandchildren all inspire my poems.” Johnston read second. His poetry has appeared in a variety of publications such as The Georgia Review, The Western Humanities Review and The Centennial Review.
Professor Zucker infused innovative life into the timeless historic tale of the twelfth century ill-fated lovers Abelard and Eolowise as he read his poem that spun off from previously written literature on the couple, and based on letters that the two might have written each other during their life long separation.
“It is an old tradition to take someone else’s work and make it new and to discover aspects that have not yet been written about,” Zucker said. “I really enjoyed writing this project.”
Professor Cole, who is retiring this year and has published stories and poems the CEA Critic, The Kansas Quarterly, The New Hampshire College Journal, Leatherneck, and The Vintage Ford to name a few, finds that little hero’s often are the focal points in his poetry, as one character type poem that he read focused on the acting career of Butterfly McQueen best known as “Prissy” from the classic 1939 movie “Gone with the Wind”
“I was especially intrigued with an article written about Butterfly McQueen after she died and expressing unfortunate feelings about not being more recognized,” Cole said. “That is great subject matter for a poem where she is the little hero type, so I was inspired to bring her back to life and to give her an academy award through a poem.”
The audience enjoyed listening and the poetry reading was supported by students as well as faculty and the public.
“I took the art of poetry with Professor Dansdill and I wanted to come and hear his work,” Janine Roberts, a junior sociology major, said. “It was great to see him outside of the classroom setting.”
Professor Cole thinks it is important for students to see what they do outside the classroom.
“We have to teach our subjects in the classroom, but out of the classroom is a different setting,” Cole said. “It is a more imaginative experience for the students and I think it makes a more compatible relationship between the students and the professors because it helps them identify with each other more.”