Judith O’Connell Hoyer Poetry Reading Celebrates Spring and Verse

April 24, 2015
By: Christine Hickman

Spring comes forward as a late-winter confection, and I cannot

decide if it advances a philosophy of meekness or daring

Whether or not this spring can be considered meek or daring after the recent grueling winter, Sandra Lim’s poem “Snowdrops” was the perfect accompaniment to the first week of warm weather in New England – a coincidence that Lim did not miss.

“I’m originally from California, so the drama of the seasons here is rough,” the poet admitted. “During the first winter I was here I thought, ‘Where have I landed?’”

Sandra Lim and fellow poet Anna Ross visited Worcester State University in April to partake in Worcester State University’s National Poetry Month celebrations by performing in the first annual Judith O’Connell Hoyer Poetry Reading, which was made possible by poet and alumna Judith O’Connell Hoyer ’65. Hoyer received her degree in elementary education from Worcester State, served as a school psychologist and director of special education in Medway, Mass., and has had her poetry published in literary journals and magazines.

“The students, faculty, and staff at Worcester State are very grateful for Ms. Hoyer’s generosity and her support of our efforts and study of poetry,” said Heather Treseler, assistant professor of English, who helped to organize the event.

Sandra Lim and Anna Ross both read from their recent collections of poetry and fielded questions about their work and craft from students and audience members. Lim’s book The Wilderness was selected by nationally known poet Louise Glück and was the winner of the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize, while Anna Ross is the author of If a Storm (2012) and Hawk Weather (2008), the former selected by Julianna Baggott for the Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry.

Ross’s work focuses on motherhood as well as the human and natural world. “I remember being a little bit of poetry geek as a child,” said Ross. “But I’m not sure when I was brave enough to say that I was going to become a poet…Maybe it was because I accrued enough debt in the name of poetry that I decided to do it,” she joked.

Lim’s first foray into poetry was something of an accident. “I was interested in fiction, but due to a clerical error in college I was put into this introductory poetry class and it was wonderful. From there I began to write more and more poems.”

Ross and Lim also discussed the importance of collaboration in reviewing and writing their poetry, daily writing routines, how they compiled their work into collections, and how they constructed a poem.

“I think that writing is cathartic,” said Ross. “I write as a means of finding out what’s happening in the world or what I am experiencing, which is why these themes [in my poetry] emerge. No matter how close to the source or how outward looking you are, you’re still investigating yourself or your perception to some extent.”

WSU’s National Poetry Month celebration continued through April, with three poets reading from their new books on April 22. Dr. Michael True, a peace activist and professor emeritus of Assumption College, joined Margaret Lloyd and Henry Lyman from Northampton to share their poems with the community.

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