A Community of Creative Writers Find a Home in Pleasantville
Jane Collins, PhD
Deborah Poe, PhD
Over the past few years, English professor Jane Collins, PhD has noticed that the creative writing track in the English major has become more and more popular. That’s why she’s so excited that the department has added a new full-time faculty member, Assistant Professor Deborah Poe, PhD, who just happens to be a distant relative of the famous author Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe’s first full collection of poetry, Our Parenthetical Ontology, will be published in November. She will read and sign copies at Mortola Library on November 18. Event details. Read “Minute” a poem that will be included in this book. Her writing is also forthcoming or has recently appeared in journals including Ploughshares, The Portland Review, Denver Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Midway Journal, Drunken Boat, and FOURSQUARE Magazine as well as in the anthologies Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS From the Black Diaspora and A Sing Economy.
In addition to being able to add more advanced fiction and poetry courses to the department’s offerings, Poe has a lot of exciting plans for the Pleasantville English department. Among them are putting together an author lecture series that will bring well-known authors to campus each semester, bringing students out into the community through Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, for civic engagement opportunities focused on writing at a local veterans center, and reenergizing Vox, the student literary and art magazine.
“There’s not really a strong, sustainable process for getting students’ writing to Vox. I’m hoping to develop that process,” said Poe, who previously served as associate editor and poetry editor at Harpur Palate, Binghamton University’s literary magazine, and has worked with several other journals in the past such as Bellingham Review.
Poe will serve as a panelist at the upcoming Society of Fellows Weekend Retreat which is focusing on the theme “The Artist, Civic Engagement, and Responsibility.” She has also received a start-up grant from Dyson College to complete an anthology of short fiction with the theme “negotiating literary and cultural spaces between worlds” in the next two years.
Collins is also working on creating a summer workshop for high school students.
“We’re really hoping to build, with Deborah’s help, a creative community with writers here and writers coming from the outside, and through a newly polished journal like Vox, and to have all the synergy of all those things happening,” Collins said.
Collins’ students already feel that sense of community.
“Where else than in a creative writing classroom can you write freely and intimately for a grade? Where else can you feel inspired by a single project, or be motivated by the book and authors you study? Creative writing is truly the one academic outlet that doesn’t feed ideals to a student, but instead allows the student to consume, digest and compose these ideals as they apply them to their own ventures,” said Gianna Sandri who is currently enrolled in Collins’ poetry writing workshop.
Both Collins and Poe use a workshop format to teach creative writing.
“We give students the opportunity to try out new things in a setting where they can get feedback and support,” said Collins.
“Our opinions and views are never seen as wrong but taken into consideration, which allows everyone to see things through other people’s eyes,” said Kerry Puorro, who is in Collins’ poetry writing workshop.