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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook Authors Share in Semester’s First Afternoon of Poetry

“My Life as a Dessert,” “The Dream of Communication,” and “A Word about Problem Customers.”

These were just a few of the poems that Stony Brook authors shared during the semester’s first Author Series: An Afternoon of Poetry.

On Sept. 29, the Melville Library Author Series featured three faculty poets: Alexandra van de Kamp, Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Julie Sheehan.

Van de Kamp, who teaches at the Intensive English Center and who wrote, “The Park of Upside-Down Chairs,” opened the series with a poem about a poem. She then continued with a variety of her work including, “My Life as a Dessert” which played on her sweet tooth and another that defined sleep.

She read an additional poem. The inspiration or the poem whose inspiration came from when van de Kamp and her husband lived in Madrid and missed the X-Files series in America.  When they returned they managed to catch up on every season.  She ended with a poem based off the woman detective Miss Marble.

Phillips was the next author to read his poetry. Phillips, an associate professor of English at Stony Brook, and Director of the English Graduate Program and the Poetry Center,  started by warning the audience that his poems were not “applause ready.” There was no need to clap after each poem.  With that in mind, he began by reading his poem about Sept. 11th.  He spoke every poem with passion as he continued to read his work inspired by New York City, his wife and Barcelona.  His last poem, “The Dream of Communication,” was about change.

Sheehan, a professor in the Masters of Fine Arts program, was the last author who enthusiastically read her poetry from “The Bar Book.” The poems, based off of the experience of being a bartender, spoke of what a person goes through behind the bar during each shift.  Many of Sheehan’s poems focused on the importance of place, in this case the place was the bar.

One of the last poems read, “A Word About Problem Customers,” recalled an unpleasant experience of a customer that the barmaid ended up marrying.

The Melville Library Author Series started around 10 years ago with an event featuring three novelists on campus.  At the time, there had not been any similar event, so it was a test run to see what the turnout would be.  The event happens about once every month after students started showing more interest in An Afternoon of Poetry.

“I think it’s important that we have a forum where our own faculty and staff can share their [work], whether it’s creative writing, or poetry or even, you know, whatever their expertise is,” said Kristen Nyitray, head of Special Collections and University Archives and collaborator of the Author Series. “There’s really no [other] place on campus.”

For this semester’s first event, students and faculty who gathered together were intrigued by each individual’s take on poetry.

“I thought it was great,” said William Glenn, librarian and partner of the Author Series. “We had wonderful reaction, immediately after the event and in the days since then, I’ve had people come up and tell me they really, really enjoyed it.”

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