UConn Creative Writing Program hosts inspiring alumni poetry reading

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The Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut welcomed back two alumni poets for a reading of their recent work followed by a Q&A on how to be successful in the realm of writing poetry on Wednesday, Sept. 29.  

Megan Maguire Dahn along with husband, Matthew Carey Salyer, read several pieces that included different types of rhyming and writing techniques, with Salyer including some powerful pieces from his recently published book, “Ravage and Snare,” and Dahn reading pieces from her book of poetry, “Domain.”  

Dahn recently won the Burnside Review’s 2021 “Book Press Award” for “Domain,” which includes rich imagery of the environment, specifically highlighting the wilderness of the town of Mansfield, Conn. where she grew up.  

Although Dahn and Salyer are professionally successful in their writing and English teaching careers, they were very candid when discussing the financial challenges that come with writing poetry.  

“Although you may not make a lot of money from solely writing poetry, I think that can be very freeing,” Dahn told students at the reading. “There is a lack of pressure that allows your creativity to flow and write what you want to write about.” 

Dahn and Salyer started as classmates in the Creative Writing Program at UConn, and have both gone on incredible journeys as adults since their time spent in Storrs. 

UConn creative writing Professor Penelope Pelizzon who also attended the event on Wednesday evening said it has been delightful to watch the two poets’ writing styles grow over the past few years, as she, and many others in the program, have been following Dahn and Salyers’ work since they were students. 

Pelizzon explained the importance for current students who are interested in a future of writing poetry to start by meeting other student writers to get inspiration for writing pieces and to get new reading recommendations to broaden their poetic horizons.  

“For any student interested in creative writing, immersing yourself into a place where you are reading a lot, writing a lot and pushing to learn those skills is the first step to becoming better,” Pelizzon said. 

When writing poetry, it is important to create a “sense of place,” or an immersive setting in a piece to intrigue readers in the story being told. Salyer and Dahn delved into the challenges of fulfilling this technique through the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“It’s difficult to not be able to write about traveling to a new and exciting place,” Dahn said. “However, the sense of place I normally create in my writing comes from the life inside my home and stories from my childhood and how I grew up.”  

Pelizzon said that she admires the specific imagery Dahn forms within her work, and the carefully chosen syntax that Salyer inputs into his writing.  

Sean Forbes, the director of UConn’s Creative Writing Program said he hopes the English Department can host these poets and others again throughout the school year to give students inspiration for their own work and poetic drive.   

Students who are interested in the Creative Writing Program at UConn can visit their website for more information on courses and events the program will be holding. 

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