By Delaney Fox, Staff Writer
The Visiting Writers Series made its return to Saint Vincent College on Apr. 6 in the Verostko Center for the Arts after a hiatus due to the pandemic. The first event of the series was marked by a poetry reading by author Dan Rosenberg and the winners of the annual Ragan Poetry Contest.
Rosenberg is the author of several books of poetry and two chapbooks, including The Crushing Organ and A Thread of Hands. He also co-translated Miklavž Komelj’s Hippodrome, and he is the chair of Wells College’s English department.
Rosenberg read several poems from his latest book, Bassinet. Students in the Poetry Workshop course taught by Michelle Gil-Montero, English professor, had read Rosenberg’s book and expressed excitement at the opportunity to meet the author and hear him read the poems.
“So, this book roughly traces a sort of evolution into and through early parenthood. They’re discreet poems, and I hope people will find a way to poems that they connect with regardless of where they fall in that trajectory,” Rosenberg said.
Throughout the reading, Rosenberg encouraged students to ask questions and described the ideas behind certain poems structures, and lines. The main inspiration for his newest collection of poems was his son.
Rosenberg also served as the judge for the 2022 Ragan Poetry Contest. The first, second and third place winners were invited to read their winning poems at the beginning of the poetry reading event.
Oli Grogan, junior English major, took third place with her poem, “Benediction,” and Isabel Sicree, senior English major, took second place with her poem, “Without Ear Plugs.”
Elizabeth Elin, junior theology and English double major, won first place with her poem, “Jade.”
“I read ‘Jade’ late at night and woke up the next morning still abuzz with the tension,” Rosenberg said.
Elin’s poem was originally written for an assignment in Poetry Workshop to write a ‘collective I’ poem. She chose to integrate questions from an interview with a former Olympic champion, centering her poem around “athletic stardom” and what she imagined competing at the highest level might be like.
“I almost did not submit this poem to the contest,” Elin said. “Professor Gil-Montero offered to help anyone who was interested choose two poems to submit to the contest and urged me to submit this one. I’m glad that I did!”
Elin enjoyed every aspect of the poetry reading event.
“It was inspiring to read my poem at the same reading as Rosenberg and to hear the other winners read their poems out loud as well. It was also wonderful having the reading in the Verostko Center, as this setting blended poetry and visual art in a striking way,” Elin said.
Elin is “grateful and honored” that her poem was chosen as the winner of the contest. She would like to encourage students to submit their own poems in future contests.
“It is a great experience and a unique opportunity to share your poetry with a broader audience!” Elin said.