Poet, translator and essayist Brian Sneeden came to Storrs Center for a poetry reading at the University of Connecticut Bookstore in which he read and discussed work from his book “Last City.” He also read poems from another poet’s book which he translated from Greek, titled “Homerica.”
Sneeden held his audience’s gaze throughout the reading with poems such as “Squatters,” “Elegy in Which I am Awake” and “After a Suicide.” His voice lulled the audience into a trance while an interpreter signed the whole event for Deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members, capturing the beauty of his poetry in a unique way that is not normally appreciated.
Sneeden’s skillful use of imagery and rhythm, among other poetic devices, showcased his strength in writing where he is able to effortlessly paint a scene and tell a story through his poetry.
Later on in the event, Sneeden read poems such as “Lotus-Eaters II” by Phoebe Giannisi from her book “Homerica,” a modern retelling of the “Odyssey” through contemporary experience, which he translated himself from its original Greek language.
After the reading, the floor was opened up to questions from the audience. Many of which asked Sneeden about his experiences in translating work from other poets, his relationship with reading as a child and how he hopes to further his writing career.
Sneeden’s book “Last City” was published in 2018 by Carnegie Mellon University Press and many of his poems have been featured in countless other publications; namely Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and TriQuarterly. A few of his poems have even been translated and been in international publications in Siberian, Albanian and Greek.
His book features poems written mostly during his undergrad in creative writing, the oldest of which was written about a decade ago. Much of his work is written in lyric verse but some of his work still features free verse. When Sneeden experiments with his work, he doesn’t so much as experiment with the form he uses, but rather the content of what he is writing.
Sneeden is a native to Ashville, North Carolina but he received his MFA from the University of Virginia. He is a fourth-year PhD student in creative writing and translation here at UConn and is currently teaching translation
He was initially introduced into the world of poetry when he happened up a book on Greek mythology in the fifth grade, which eventually inspired him to begin writing poetry himself.
“From the Greek mythology, I then used that as a sounding board to discover other forms of mythology,” Sneeden said.
According to Sneeden, poetry is a “sort of a religion” and even “one of the most impractical things,” but he sees it as “the conscience of a society” since it is able to express and highlight the values and experiences of a society at any given point in time.
“It’s a wonderful kind of barometer for reading what people care about [and] how they’re expressing that in different literary forms,” Sneeden said. “And also the kind of myths that people hold onto often tend to come up in poetry in an interesting, modern way.”