Suffolk Arts + Sciences - Premiere Issue 2007 - (Page 40)
new on the hill//sUFFOLK UNIvERsITy NEws TExT//CAROLYN ALBEE IMAGES//VARIOUS Above: Award-winning poet Martha Collins reads from her book, blue front, at Suffolk University’s new Poetry Center. a Poetry Center’s time Has Come a SpaCIOuS, SuNlIT room on the third floor of the new Sawyer Library is ready for the afternoon reading— rows of chairs face the podium, window blinds filter glare from the sun, and refreshments wait on a table in the adjacent room. Gradually people arrive, looking around the new Poetry Center before selecting a seat to wait. Some haven’t yet seen the attractive space— its tall windows overlooking the historic Granary Burying Ground, large tables and comfortable chairs inviting quiet contemplation or lively workshops, and French doors leading to a smaller room with reading chairs and a wall lined end-to-end with old, leatherbound books—the Zieman Poetry Collection. The discovery of these volumes by English professor and poet Fred Marchant inspired him and Sawyer Library Director Bob Dugan to create the Poetry Center last year. The collection of classic poetry books, dating from 1675 to 1930, was donated to Suffolk in 1956 by Irving Zieman but sat unnoticed in library archives for decades. Zieman did not go to college, but he wrote and published four books of his own poetry, which, says library director Bob Dugan, is what makes the collection so valuable. “He used the collection to teach himself about poetry, and that to me is all about Suffolk,” says Dugan. “Students here work hard.” Marchant says the comprehensive collection is a valuable research tool. “It’s great for teaching purposes, because students can actually look at it and use it,” he says, unlike rare book collections which are often under lock and key. Dugan and Marchant hope to add both rare and contemporary books of poetry, as well as literary journals, to the collection. As the start time for the scheduled reading approaches, the larger of the two rooms fills. All 50 seats are taken and the space nears capacity with standing-room only for the crowd. Marchant welcomes the visitors and with customary eloquence and unmistakeable admiration, he introduces award-winning poet Martha Collins, author of five books of poetry. She begins with an excerpt from her book-length poem, Blue Front, and the audi- ence listens, somber and intent, to her words of a lynching her father witnessed as a child. Collins is one of numerous acclaimed authors and poets to read at the Poetry Center this year, including Harvard Professor Helen Vendler, awardwinning poets David Rivard and Grace Paley, and National Book Award winning novelist Larry Heinemann. The Poetry Center also hosted receptions for Distinguished Scholar in Residence James Carroll and Distinguished Visiting Scholar Maxine Hong Kingston, as well as creative writing workshops and panel discussions, and is becoming well known in the Boston literary community due to efforts to sponsor and publicize readings by major writers. “Boston should see this as a resource, as a contribution to the cultural life of the city,” says Marchant. He hopes the Poetry Center will eventually become a magnet for grant support and individual donations as well as be able to sponsor nationally recognized contests and awards, bringing a higher profile to Suffolk University.  SUFFOLKARTS+SCIENCES//2007 ALUMNI MAGAzINE
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