Sounds of softly spoken poetry filled the halls of Phillip E. Austin on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the University of Connecticut. The emotion filled words came from eight time award winning poet Allison Joseph. Joseph was featured as a part of the Writers Who Edit, Editors Who Write series at the University of Connecticut that brings a diverse group of creative writers to the Storrs campus.
Sean Forbes, the director of the creative writing program at UConn, kicked off the event by introducing Joseph and all of her major accomplishments as a poet. In addition to her eight awards, seven poetry collections and eight chat books, Joseph is, in no particular order a teacher, wife, editor in chief, contributing editor, co-director, associate professor and most importantly a poet. As if Joseph didn’t have enough on her plate, the multi titled poet drove all the way from Illinois just to speak at UConn for one hour.
As the main part of the event commenced, Joseph read from several of her poems, old and new, that were often packed with striking messages. Comedy mixed with everyday happenings seemed to be a favorite topic of Joseph’s in her poetry. This proved to be true in her readings from her poem “Pedestrians Blues” where she explained in beautiful detail her struggles, and pride, of being a non-driving citizen, to “Tourist Attractions,” a poem that Joseph says she didn’t know was dirty until after she wrote it, to “Ode to My Mole,” a love poem dedicated to the mole that graces her upper lip.
After venturing into her lengthier poem filled books, Joseph transitioned into talking about the logistics of publishing. Joseph’s experience as the editor of the Crab Orchard Review at Southern Illinois University sparked the crowd’s interests on how to get published.
“It helps when thinking about the publishing process, considering she (Joseph) is so involved in editing,” said Christian Buckley, a sixth semester English major concentrating in Creative Writing “It’s good to hear from people who are out there doing it currently.”
“Editing has given me an eye for flaw,” said Joseph answering a question on how editing other writers’ work has helped with her own writing “Editing helps from that vantage point because you’re learning to look at literary work, that’s not unlike your own, with a dispassionate eye.”
Joseph also talked about the hardships that the Crab Orchard Review is currently facing with the forced conversion from a print to an online journal. Joseph described the change as a “difficult transition” and made it clear that it was a result of budget cuts that hit Southern Illinois University.
John Moreno is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.