Wake: Up to Poetry
Welcome WFU Press Interns!
The fall semester at Wake Forest is in full swing, a time of year we welcome heartily because it means we benefit from the new energy of our student interns as they begin their work with us. We have two returnees from last year and three new interns, all of whom have the gumption and wherewithal to make welcome contributions to WFU Press. By way of introduction, we asked each to tell us something about the first poet or poem that made a lasting impact on them.
Major: English and Religious Studies
Hometown: Beckley, West Virginia
The first book of poetry that made a lasting impact on me was a book of illustrated classic poems that my mother bought used, and worn, at a local flea market. I was six years old at the time and just beginning to read. Most nights, before I went to bed, we would sit next to each other with that book between us and take turns reading poems aloud to each other. I fell in love with poetry then, and I started writing poetry of my own just a few years later at eight or nine years old. Still today, I enjoy poetry and use it to communicate my thoughts and ideas about the world around me.
Major: English, with Creative Writing and Schools, Education, and Society (SES) Minors
Hometown: Summit, New Jersey
The first poem I really read, and by really read I mean completely fell into, was “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich. I think I read it in middle school when poetry seemed extremely daunting. While I was sitting on my back patio, I read the first few stanzas and felt like I was moving with her every step down the ladder into the sea, but really the unknown. Ever since, I’ve loved poetry because of the way it can completely remove you from your immediate setting. I love reading that makes me feel everything the author feels, and poetry does that for me every time. I’m so lucky to intern at WFU Press where I can immerse myself in poetry every day.
Major: English, with Interdisciplinary Writing and Environmental Studies Minor
Hometown: outside Boone, North Carolina
I remember reading Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” during my first English class at Wake Forest. It was the first time I had read poetry since middle school; I finally had the experience to both identify poetic structures and work through those structures to get at a meaning or interpretation of the poem. But I was mostly awestruck by the way Shelley describes things. I still think about the phrase “The sea-blooms and the oozy woods…” on a weekly basis. I remember drawing a little smiley face next to that line in my textbook, not because the meaning of that line affected me or held profound meaning but because I just loved how the words sounded together.
Major: Classical Languages
Hometown: Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania
When I was in elementary school, Sharon Creech’ s epistolary verse novel Love That Dog converted me into a poetry enthusiast. It was so different from other books I’d read before; all that blank space on every page seemed to compress what words were there, concentrating their impact in a way that was new and intriguing to me. Previously, “real” poetry had struck me as this opaque and inaccessible thing, but Jack’s story proved to me that poetry could be personal, that it could reveal beauty and complexity in the apparently simple, and that even young students like myself could read and write and talk about poetry meaningfully.
Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina
Slouching Toward Nirvana by Charles Bukowski was the first poetry I read that I felt connected to. It’s unadorned, relatable, and funny. I read it when I was 15. Until then, I had always appreciated poetry, but had never read any that resonated with me as much as the contemporary and confessional writing of Bukowski did. He wrote about watching the clock at a boring job, and daily interactions that frustrated him, which was much more captivating to my high-school self than the Shakespeare or Blake I had read in school.