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Great Writers, Great Readings series kicks off

By Ehlayna NapolitanoNEWS EDITOR

Poet and University of Maryland Professor Michael Collier will kick off Hofstra University’s “Great Writers, Great Readings” series on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 7:00 p.m.

As part of the event, happening on the 10th floor of Axinn Library, Collier will read old poems in his last collection and new ones.

Photo courtesy of University Relations

“I’m looking forward to coming to Hofstra,” Collier said. He also expressed the hope that students will get a sense of his brand of poetry, as well as what poetry is able to accomplish through language. He hopes that the audience will pick up on the “subtle humor” of his poetry and even laugh at times throughout the night.

According to the Poetry Foundation website, Collier has won several awards for his writing, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Thomas Watson Fellowship.

Collier said his poetry does not necessarily have a consistent theme and his talk on Tuesday will not focus on any particular thematic issue. He did, however, note that his poems tend to focus on the intersection of the interpersonal with history. It’s an idea he said he likes to play with.

Still, this approach is not something he has deliberately zeroed in on. “You can’t help but write out of your historical moment,” he said. “I began to notice this was in the poems and then… I paid more attention to it.”

He also said that the poems he will read on Tuesday night will bring elements of the personal in, as he will read poems that talk about and focus on family members.

As a professor at the University of Maryland, Collier primarily teaches graduate and undergraduate level courses on creative writing. One of his favorite things to teach, he said, is an undergraduate class on poetry to non-majors, because he gets to talk with students who likely have never written poetry or will not be pursuing it actively.

As a poet, Collier said the study of poetry is, for his class, often focused on the patterns prominent in poetry. Further, poetry is always a work in progress for him.

“[A poem] gives a basic reassurance, but it doesn’t help with the next poem,” Collier said. “As a writer, you’re always dissatisfied… it’s never quite perfect.” He expressed that he always feels as though he hasn’t written enough, not necessarily in terms of quantity, but instead in terms of the types of poems and in challenging himself.

As a young poet in high school, he thought he would be satisfied if he could write what he called “one perfect poem.” However, since then he has realized that poetry is never truly finished. The most important part of writing poetry, he said, is to just keep writing.

Collier expressed the importance for young poets to remember that reading what poets have written before them is important. He also stressed that writing should be fun and be felt as a “visceral” experience – poetry should come from the soul, he said.

He also explained that it is important to remember that although there is an element of daydreaming in writing, the writer in the end must put in work to create a finished piece.

“You have to turn the daydream into something material,” Collier said.

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