Remembering the World of Poetry: A Faculty Feature by Jackie White

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Photo from gennasarnak.com

This month of October—which begins with Dashain in Nepal and ends with Samhain among the Celts, which sees the conclusion of National Hispanic Month and the start of German Heritage Month and includes Indigenous and Italian and Polish Heritage celebrations, as well as the Independence Days of Cyprus and Portugal, Nigeria and Turkey, Turkmenistan and the Grenadines, with the birthday of Ghandi on the 2nd, Lief Erikson Day on the 9th, and Thanksgiving Day in Canada on the 12th–seems a fitting time to encourage JFR blog readers (and everyone) to explore the global vastness of poetry—itself the oldest and most universal genre. I’m also prompted to propose such an exploration because my father called me the other night to ask if I knew anything of the poetry of the Bible and why it didn’t rhyme. Finally, I thought, he’s glad I was an English major and became a poet!

Similarly, in my Native American literature class, I recently introduced students to the basic elements of all good poetry (rhythm, repetition, and imagery)—something I introduce in every literature course I teach—and always there’s a question about the assumed requirement of rhyme, especially for poetry in English.

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Writing Process Blog Tour with Jackie K. White

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!Muench.WolfCentos copy

I’d like to thank Simone Muench for inviting me to participate.

Simone Muench is the author of five full-length collections including Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), as well as the chapbook Trace (Black River Award; BLP, 2014). She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship, two Illinois Arts fellowships, and residencies to VSC, Yaddo, Artsmith, and ACA. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and directs the writing program at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies, while serving as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

You can read Simone Muench’s responses here.

1. What am I working on?

I’ve been moving between translation and poetry projects this year; first, in the fall when I was on sabbatical and carmen-natalia-martnez-bonillaable to travel to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In the DR, I was able to meet with Sherezada (Chiqui) Vicioso whose collection of feminist essays on Caribbean women writers, Algo que decir (Something Worth Saying) I’ve translated with the help of Socorro Cintrón. Socorro and I are now working on a set of poems by another Dominican, Carmen Natalia Bonilla Martínez (1917 – 1976), Llanto para el hijo nunca llegado (Lament for the Child Never Who Never Arrived). Also related to translation, I’ve recently begun serving as the Translations Editor for a quarterly feature in the online journal, Escape into Life. The first translation feature there is Jesse Lee Kercheval’s work from Uruguayan poets, Augustín Lucas and Circe Maia.

As for my poetry projects, I’m finishing up two chapbooks of elegies that I hope to form into one manuscript: Threnody and The Fury Psalms. Both centered on elegy, the first processes grief through poetic forms, linguisimages-1tic tropes, and seasonal markers to interrogate both personal loss and the loss of language that accompanies it. The second picks up some of those thematics through spliced centos in a larger dialogic structure that ventriloquizes Sexton and Plath, framed by “purer” centos with are then fractured into “extractions” that put a lengthier, discursive poem in conversation with the lyric knot excised from it. I hope to begin soon a “remake” of an older project, Eurynome in Exile, building on these projects and a previous series of “body centos” in ways that will allow me to explore the intersections between translation and poetry alongside hemispheric intersections of “American” identity.

I was delighted to read in Tyler Mill’s blog of her interests in “investigat[ing] the lyric persona, the body, landscapes, and memory,” as that speaks to my interests, as well, and yet, as I’ve been reflecting on my old project related to “exile” and issues of place, I’ve begun to realize that the lurking concern – and one of the lyric poem’s innate concerns – is with time. (Eurynome, Pelagasian goddess of place, was exiled by the Greek Cronus, god of time; you can read an excerpt from the initial project here: Seven Corners Poetry. I’m curious to see how that sensibility morphs what and how I write next, particularly as attitudes and grammars of time seem to be so culturally inscribed – U.S. Americans supposedly future-oriented, for example, and other Americans more engaged with the present or the past…

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  4f55529bee2ec_80495n

My work in elegy differs from others because of its more foregrounded attention to linguistic matters and metaphors as well as in my experimentations with the dialogic, the cento, and other stanzaic forms (couplet, tercet, sonnet, for example). To some extent my elegies also address gender and the gendered body, as well, probably because these later chapbooks or sequences follow my previous chapbook, Come clearing, which has those issues at its core. Another possible difference in my work is a Midwestern landscape sensibility and a tension between meditative tone and clipped or unusual juxtaposed phrasings.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Where “what” refers to content: because I’ve never felt completely at home and because words offer both a home and an exploration of its limits and possibilities—and by “home” I include landscape and body, relational constructs and language(s). Where it refers to genre: because I like the containers that poetic forms provide and prefer lyric to narrative and, to speak of translation as well, because I like to give voice to other voices and to be part of larger conversations in intimate ways.

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Writing Process Blog Tour with Simone Muench

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!MillsCompHi.indd

I’d like to thank Tyler Mills for so graciously inviting me to participate.

Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013). A poet and essayist, her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Believer, POETRY, and the Boston Review, and her prose has appeared in the Robert Frost Review and the Writer’s Chronicle. Her poems have received awards from the Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Third Coast, and she has been the recipient of work-study scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. A graduate of Bucknell and the University of Maryland (MFA, Poetry), she is Editor-in-Chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought. She lives in Chicago, where she is currently working toward a PhD in creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago and helps organize the Wit Rabbit reading series.

You can read Tyler’s wonderful responses here, and below are my responses:

1. What am I working on?Muench.WolfCentos copy

Project 1 (completed):  I recently completed my chapbook Trace (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) and full-length collection Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), both of which are books comprised of centos, a patchwork form that I find to be deeply under-utilized with great potential to engage the lyric-I in a new, and hopefully profound, manner. The recombinant nature of the cento allows for both homage to influences and predecessors while beginning the conversation anew. And just as each line “converses” with its adjacent line, each poem is in conversation with one another. Ultimately elegiac, these particular poems oscillate between transformation and stasis, wildness and domesticity, damage and healing. The “wolf” of these centos becomes a symbol of a threshold, a transformative space, as well as a mode of meditation, or as the wonderful late Larry Levis notes:

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There Are Wrenches in English Too: Professor Eric Jones Profile by Richard Mulville

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Prof R. Eric Jones, Lewis University Aviation and Transportation Professor. Lewis student Richard Mulville interviewed Prof. Jones. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

There Are Wrenches in English Tooeric jones

Robert Eric Jones, though he prefers Eric Jones, is one of those mechanics who works and inspects airplanes on a weekend basis for SWA (Southwest Airlines.) Jones with his clean cut brown hair, standing about 5’10” with his lab jacket on, is a professor here at Lewis University.  Jones wasn’t always a professor at Lewis University, he has also worked in the United States Navy as an airframe and powerplant rated mechanic. In the Navy, he worked on LC-130’s,which is a four-engine transport aircraft. Jones was deployed to Antarctica where he worked on these type of airplanes and mostly transported toilet paper and plywood around the continent. After his four years in the Navy, he worked for United Airlines as a mechanic for three years. After his three year stint at United, he heard about new opportunities at SWA where he applied and received the job.

Jones has been working for SWA for 14 years and only works on the weekends now, stating “Yeah, it’s not a bad deal.” He is now a Flight Line Technician at SWA where he looks at planes before they depart. In the event that there is a problem with the aircraft, he decides if it’s a “go” or “no-go item.”  Since he has been with the company for so long, he is able to choose his own hours and works around his teaching schedule during the week. He is the proud married father of three children with one of them being special needs. This diverse background shapes a brief summary of Robert Eric Jones.

With all of his mechanical background, it is no surprise that Prof. Jones’s favorite type of book is either a nonfiction or historical book. In Jone’s library, he’d have, “different types of literature, historical, biographies and classics.” And, if he could co-write with one author, it would be David McCullough, a primarily nonfiction author. It is no surprise that Jones would want to work with someone who is also interested in nonfiction historical pieces. Although his favorite books are nonfiction, he does need somewhere to relax when he’s off the job. When asked where his favorite place to read is, he stated, “It has to be the bathtub, because of the Jacuzzi,” which is where he escapes when he’s stressed about working on airplanes or grading exams. Continue reading

Classical Women: Professor Dawn Walts Profile by Sabrina Parr

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Dr. Dawn Walts, Lewis University English Professor. Lewis student Sabrina Parr interviewed Dr. Walts. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

Classical Women1378854_672333156111118_683573564_n

Professor Dawn Walts is beloved by many of her students and as one of her students I can attest to this firsthand. Dr. Walts is always happy and upbeat in class, whether it is acting out a part of Beowulf or simply explaining a passage of text from Shakespeare. You can clearly see the love for reading shining out of Dr. Walts whenever she stands in front of her class; there is never a dull moment. Dr. Walts is like a book waiting to be read and we will do just that as we unpack her in the following profile.

Reading books is not something many people enjoy nowadays with all the distractions around. Smartphones make it easy to get the newest TV show right in your hand and why would you need a book when you can see it in front of you without any effort on your part? Dr. Dawn Walts is one of the few who still enjoys reading for fun. When asked where her favorite place to read is she replied, “I love reading on planes and trains.” Dr. Walts likes to be in motion. She likes to move while she reads, as she believes that reading provides the perfect escape to the crowded train or plane; although she is sitting, reading can transport her to someplace new or old. Books are a way of jumping out of our world and moving into someone else’s. Having a book in your hand is like holding a whole new world in your palm–all you have to do is open it and escape into it and all it has to offer.

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The Blackboard Wiz! LMS and Media Technology Administrator Alvin Butler Profile by Celeste Martinez

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Alvin Butler, Lewis University LMS and Media Technology Administrator. Lewis student Celeste Martinez interviewed Mr. Butler. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

The Blackboard Wiz with an Energetic Twist!butleral

Alvin Butler, the tall man behind the glass windows in the library who is always wearing a black leather jacket, is also known as the Blackboard wiz; and, I’m proud to say, he is my ICE (Introduction to the College Experience) mentor. I met Mr. Butler this year in my ICE class. I won’t lie, at first, I thought he was going to be an unfriendly, strict mentor; but, it turned out I was completely wrong. He is one of the kindest, though frankest mentors, you could have in ICE. He doesn’t sugar coat it for you; he tells you how it is. However, he listens to you, and you can tell that he truly cares about all of his students in ICE. I genuinely look forward to every ICE session with Mr. Butler. In this class we are able to speak our minds and express our opinions on various topics from racism to culture. He always says, “What happens in this class stays in this class.”  I like this particular approach because I like to know that we can be honest and say what we feel. We don’t have to be afraid that he will judge us, because he never does.

Mr. Butler understands us and always tries to learn from us, in the same way we learn from him. He makes the whole learning process entertaining, especially with his weekly stories that always make us laugh. His most recent story was about an embarrassing situation at a grocery store.  He was being a considerate husband and went to the grocery store to buy his wife tampons. When he went to purchase them, the price would not scan so the woman at the register had to make an announcement on the overhead speaker for a price check on the tampons. Mr. Butler became bright red and embarrassed, begging the woman to not make the announcement, but she did nevertheless. When he returned home he didn’t speak to his wife the rest of that evening. The whole class jumped out of their seats laughing when he told us, as it was one of his funniest stories yet.

Mr. Alvin Butler works at Lewis University as the Blackboard administrator, and teaches an Introduction to Information Systems course, besides being my ICE mentor. As the Lewis University Blackboard administrator, his job consists of interpreting the blackboard manual and ensuring that he and his group are handling the technology efficiently here at Lewis, as well as being able to write in technical terms and expressing himself in terms that his primary support will understand. Being an expert in technology, Mr. Butler has an educational background in his specific field. He graduated from Rock Island High School which is located in Illinois. Then, he received his Associates in Computer Science at Blackhawk College, which is located in Moline, Illinois. Later, in 2004, he received his Bachelors of Science in Information Technology at Franklin University in Ohio.

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Thoughts Before Words: Professor Clare Rothschild Profile by Daniel Echeverri

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Dr. Clare Rothschild, Lewis University Theology Professor. Lewis student Daniel Echeverri interviewed Dr. Rothschild. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

Thoughts Before Words

Dr. Clare Rothschild is a professor at Lewis University with a Ph.D in Theology.Clare Rothschild She was born in California and went to college there for her first few years. As a professor, she believes theology is important because,

“theological issues plague people because our thoughts about them are unsophisticated, lacking appropriate nuance and necessary ambiguity.”

Since she first became a theology professor, she reads “fiction as a discipline before bed.” She is the type of reader who wants “no distractions” while she reads and describes her perfect reading atmosphere on a plane.

English classes have always been easy for Rothschild, to the point where she was presented with the chance to co-write with Trevor W. Thompson, stating that she “would certainly do so again! He is perfectly brilliant.” Thompson has a Ph.D in Theology from University of Chicago, which is the same university that Rothschild attended, and where she received her Ph.D. in Theology as well. They have written several books and articles together. He is a very successful author and I would have to agree with Rothschild’s statement about him being “perfectly brilliant.”ROTCHRIST

Rothschild believes thinking is more important than reading and writing in theology. She wishes that students today would think before they read and write. Intellect is important to Rothschild, and because of this, she would love to meet Hercules Poirot, a fictional Belgian detective, who has been in 56 short stories and 33 novels. She thinks solving crime cases takes a lot of thought and that is why she enjoys him.

Theology has played a role in Rothschild’s life since before she could read. She memorized “The Little Book about God” by Lauren Ford, at a very young age. Also when she was eight she “detected” a mistake in the Ten Commandments from a children’s bible in a store. She had memorized the Ten Commandments so well that when she detected the mistake, it surprised her. Later in her adult life, she finally received a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1992; then, she went on to receive a Ph.D at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2003. Now she is teaching at Lewis University and is a well-known professor.

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