By RILEY SPELLMAN
On March 22nd, poet Joanie Mackowski had the audience in stitches and in awe. Mackowski is working on her third collection of poems after publishing her first two, View From a Temporary Window and The Zoo. It’s also Mackowski’s chance, she discussed, to write about herself and her experiences in her poetry rather than focusing on the outside world.
Mackowski is a winner of the 2008 Emily Dickinson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the 2003 Kate Tufts Discovery award, and an assortment of other awards. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and earned a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford. She studied at the University of Missouri for her Ph.D.
The poet was introduced Thursday night by St. Lawrence Professor, Dr. Sarah Barber, of the English Department. Dr. Barber noted that Mackowski is the only person she knows who is both an excellent poet and also an excellent juggler. This remark introduced the humor and entertaining personality that define her work. In her poems and in her comments last Thursday night, Mackowski was clever and honest.
She was especially honest when she discussed the art of poetry. While she noted that it is lasting and important, she also admitted, “Poetry is a pleasure.” Mackowski, down-to-earth and open about the entertaining quality of her work, talked about how she loves to write, but rather than focus on changing the world, she focuses instead on perfecting her unique word choice and the sound of her poetry. She even laughed, when responding to a question about whether she were ever afraid to write about complicated matters, “I’m only intimidated by real English Majors.” She defined this as the type of kid that reads everything and is serious about everything, as well. This made her a hit with many students in attendance.
Even if you missed Thursday’s reading, it’s never too late to swing by the Bookstore and check out Mackowski’s poetry.