Books Acquired Recently: Poetry Edition

ellipsis 49 (2013).

Strasko, Barbara Buckman. Graffiti in Braille. Cincinnati: Word, 2012.

Friday night was the debut reading for this year’s issue of ellipsis, Westminster College’s literary journal. ellipsis is unique in that it is run by students, but accepts submissions for review from anyone, so it ends up publishing a good mix of established poets, emerging poets from around the country (lots of newly-minted MFAs in the contributor list, ha ha), and a few students. Aside from some student poems, every year a featured poet who has previously published in the journal reads their work. This year’s poet was Barbara Buckman Strasko.

After this tragic week, and with the announcement about fifteen minutes before the reading began that the second Boston bombing suspect had been captured, I was really feeling the need for some poetry. The poems read from the journal were all quite good, with many of them being thought-provoking as well as finely crafted. Strasko’s work was also enjoyable. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is where my mother’s family has lived since the early 1700s, so I was happy to be able to talk with her after the reading. She was very approachable, and happy to talk with students, which not all visiting writers are. I look forward to reading her book!

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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