Emma Eden Ramos — the author of Still, At Your Door: A Fictional Memoir, The Realm of the Lost, and Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems — contacted me long before the start of National Poetry Month and asked me if I was organizing another blog tour. I have been such a basket case about blog stuff and trying to keep on top of everyone and everything, but her reminder put me into full gear. I want to thank her for that.
Please give her a warm welcome as she talks with members of her Alma Mater, Marymount Manhattan College.
“Studying poetry,” Cameron Kelsall explains, “expands and, in some cases, explodes your understanding of language.” Kelsall graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2010 with a major in English and a minor in creative writing. Kelsall went on to pursue an MFA in poetry, and now has his work published in a number of well-known periodicals such as The Eunoia Review, Octave Magazine, Drunken Boat and Foothill: A Journal of Poetry.
Marymount Manhattan College—or MMC, as it’s affectionately called—has become a haven for aspiring poets who, like Cameron Kelsall, find their voices as undergraduates, then go on to thrive in the literary community. With guidance from Dr. Jerry Williams, Pushcart nominee and editor of It’s Not You, It’s Me: The Poetry of Breakup, students explore the craft of writing and, in many instances, gain insight into their own personal experiences. As Sally Stroud, a junior who minors in creative writing, writes, “I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person. Poetry forces you to look inside yourself. You might not like what you see, but in the end, a beautiful piece can be crafted.” Some undergraduate institutions offer creative writing as a major. While students at MMC cannot major in creative writing, they have the option, along with declaring the discipline as a minor, of writing and/or editing for The Marymount Manhattan Review.
As NewPages.com points out on its page dedicated to undergraduate writing programs across America, Marymount Manhattan College has a campus literary magazine called The Marymount Manhattan Review. The review includes poems, short stories and short nonfiction pieces written by Marymount students. Below is a poem selected from last year’s issue of The Marymount Manhattan Review. This year’s issue will be released in early May.
By Leisa Loan
The Southern Illinois state line made me feel
like I lived three separate lives,
all on separate lawns
as I drove to see Superman and return his library books.
The look on his face could shut the roads down,
empty like an impatient morning before a parade.
I’d put my house right on a flatbed,
Metropolis seems made for settling down,
buying groceries, and chaining up a swing over fried grass.
Let tourists pay money for magnets and museums while I live on water
and the comfort of hula hoops in the garage.
One life saw me poor and aware of it,
wanting to buy something nice for a summer birthday
everything around us colored gold and worth nothing
crop corn you can’t swallow.
But the other lives see envy from the tops of water towers,
watching sunsets like you’d never see anywhere else
thinking—the city is evil, stay here a while, forever.
Busy blood of a confused Yankee finally sitting down
and desperately thinking of space
and where to put a porch swing
in the middle of Manhattan.
*Leisa Loan is from Boston. She is a senior at Marymount Manhattan College. She will be attending graduate school for her MFA in poetry this fall.
Thanks, Emma. This was a great look at a college that some may never have looked at before, and I think its good to know that there are more creative writing programs available than just the ones at the big schools.