By: James McVey
Every year, Mount Saint Mary College celebrates National Poetry Month with its April Poetry Series. This year’s series brought two acclaimed poets to the Kaplan Family Library to spotlight their poetry to the community: accomplished author Eamon Grennan and the Mount’s own Dr. James Finn Cotter.
Eamon Grennan, born in Dublin, Ireland, studied for his undergraduate degree in his native country before deciding to come to the United States to earn his PhD at Harvard. He is the author of more than 10 collections of poetry, including “There Now” (2016), “Out of Sight: New and Selected Poems” (2010), “Matter of Fact” (2008) and “The Quick of It” (2005). He also served as a professor across the river at Vassar College for many years.
In his own words Grennan says that his poems attempt “to marry speech patterns to musical language.” Over the course of his lecture, he reflected on the writing process, the highly transient nature of poems and the spontaneity of ideas. “It can happen to you anywhere, at any time,” Grennan said. “When it is strong enough, it will remain with you.”
Dr. James Finn Cotter is the author of “Inscape: The Christology and Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins” as well as articles on Dante, Chaucer, Sidney, Hopkins and Salinger. He translated “The Divine Comedy,” published by Stony Brook University. Moreover, he is president of the International Hopkins Association, and his is poetry has been published in America, The Commonweal, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The New York Times, Sparrow, Spirit, Thought and other periodicals.
According to Dr. Cotter, “poems are like incantations and come upon a person suddenly.” Throughout the event, he inspired the audience by reading poems about faith, life, death, sorrow, nature and rebirth, posing questions about the humanities and the innate beauty found in trails all along the Hudson Valley.
The final installation of the April Poetry Series, held in the Kaplan Family Library on Apr. 25, enabled any and all writers to read at an open mic event, presenting their original or published short pieces to fellow literary lovers.