Joshua Mehigan reads poetry, explains writing process

Poet and writer Joshua Mehigan reads a selection of his poems at the UConn Bookstore in Storrs Center before opening up the floor for discussion on his writing process on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2016. (Akshara Thejaswi/The Daily Campus)

Poet and writer Joshua Mehigan visited the UConn Bookstore in Storrs Center to share his works and thought processes behind writing some of his award-winning poems.

Mehigan wrote a book, “Confusing Weather,” published in 1998, and two books of poetry, “The Optimist,” and “Accepting the Disaster,” published in 2004 and 2014, respectively.

His poetry was featured in Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker and Ploughshares. He has been awarded the Dogwood Poetry Prize, the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, the Pushcart Prize and the Levinson Prize from Poetry Magazine. Mehigan also earned a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mehigan is a New York native, currently residing in Brooklyn, where some of his poems are placed.

Mehigan was a few minutes late to his own reading, but his audience of students, faculty and poetry fans did not seem to mind. Mehigan explained that sometimes his tardiness is because of his poor concept of time because of his ADHD, while other times, like today, it is because of traffic.

The audience laughed when he whipped out his smartphone and asked if it would be okay if he could record the rest of the talk so his wife could experience it later. The audience then said “hello” to his wife via voice recording.

Mehigan shared themes that all writers can relate to, whether poets or not. Mehigan explained that most of the poems he writes he hates in a few years. He also regrets the title of his most recent book.

Mehigan found inspiration in the world around him, mostly in the people he met, the things he saw and what he did.

For example, he walked by a smokestack every day in Brooklyn on his way to get his morning coffee. Eventually, he wrote a poem about it.

He later commented that some people criticize that poem for its rhyme. He said, “They say, don’t you know you’re not supposed to do that anymore? Has anybody told you?” In instances like those, he throws criticism out the door.

Mehigan spent nine weeks working at a cement plant. He wrote about the dust that settled into his lungs and eventually gave him bronchitis.

After he read around 10 of his poems, he opened up the floor for questions. Most of the questions centered on his writing process, while the last question was about his favorite poets and writers.

Kathryn Eichner, a seventh-semester English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies student, attended the talk because she read Mehigan’s book in class last year. She said she liked his use of different voices in his writing.  

Liz Wager, a MFA student at Southern Connecticut State University, drove up to hear Mehigan’s talk because she’s been a fan of Mehigan’s book since her adviser gave her his book.

“I really liked his talk,” Wager said. “I tend to do more meter rhyme, and it’s always nice to have that validated from a serious and well respected poet.”

Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at