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Poet Jeanne Julian Discusses the Art of Poetry with WSU English Students

November 18, 2016 Posted by: Renae Lias Claffey

Poet Jeanne Julian offered her unique voice to a few dozen students, faculty, staff, and guests gathered in Worcester State University’s Eager Auditorium on Thursday, November 18, passing on lessons she’s learned about the writing process and reading her poems, some of which appear in her recently published chapbook, Blossom and Loss.

Julian told those who were aspiring poets: “I believe that anyone can try to be a poet, and anyone can be enriched by trying to be a poet. But… you have to work at it and read, a lot.”

She spoke of form, perspective, persona, and place—terms familiar to those who have written or studied poetry. She said the perspective she has gained from living in three different regions—growing up in Ohio, working at Westfield State University in Massachusetts for many years, and retiring in North Carolina—helps her to see things others may not. For example, a poem titled “The Last New England Winter” reflects her heightened sense of coming loss:

“Five minutes to five: the western fireball
tints pink the silo and the low mountain,
trees dark stiches on the snow,
behind Bartow’s Dairy.
Drink up: your last swallow of winter.”

Julian said she never set out to be a poet, considering herself a fiction writer, having earned a master of fine arts degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst in that field. She said her time writing concisely as a marketer most likely honed her skill in distilling words into poetic form.

President Barry M. Maloney welcomed those assembled for the reading, and said, “I am proud to introduce someone who has been a mentor for me,” as Julian is someone he worked closely with while at Westfield State University.

Julian demurred, saying that President Maloney was a mentor to her. She thanked WSU’s Assistant Vice President of Development and University Advancement Karen Sharpe, Assistant Professor of English Heather Treseler, Ph.D., and Professor of English Dennis Quinn, Ph.D., and the Worcester County Poetry Association for coordinating her talk.

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