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Poet Nezhukumatathil writing and presenting during sabbatical
Friday, December 04, 2015

Poet Nezhukumatathil writing and presenting during sabbatical

Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Professor Aimee Nezhukumatathil of the Department of English is spending her sabbatical researching and writing her fourth full-collection of poetry. The poems are in part inspired by the history, folklore, and contemporary landscape surrounding the Taj Mahal, which the poet Rabindranath Tagore famously once described: “This teardrop…bright on the cheek of time.”

She noted that some of the poems in the new manuscript celebrate not only the bright beauty of the physical monument itself, but in the unsung heroes and heroines of the area—the people currently found doing marvelous and brave community work in the outlying parts of one of the most magnificent architectural examples in the world. Nezhukumatathil states that while the Taj Mahal is one of the well-known entities of India, its complicated beauty— including the surrounding environmental concerns and the shadow world of human trafficking— remain largely unseen in American poetry.

Nezhukumatathil is often invited to talk about poetry, race, and the environment in conferences and at poetry readings around the world. During her sabbatical thus far, she was a visiting writer at the Vermont Studio Center, where she gave a lecture on epistolary writing and held individual writing conferences with the writers in residence at the studio. She was also a faculty member for the Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference and was selected for Grand Valley State University’s Poetry Night with poet Kwame Dawes in Grand Rapids, Mich., this past October. In addition, she served as a visiting writer during the fall semester for SUNY Oswego’s Living Writer Series and in the Master of Fine Arts programs at Rutgers-Camden and McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La.

The spring semester of her sabbatical has her slated for a number of high-profile national appearances including serving as a faculty member for the Writers in Paradise Conference at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Bread Loaf/Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. In March, she will be reading with poet Mark Doty at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and will deliver the keynote address to the Fresno State Young Writers Conference in Fresno, Calif.

In October, Nezhukumatathil received the news that she would be poetry editor of Orion magazine, one of the nation’s premiere nature journals, starting in January 2016.

New poems from her current project have already found publication in places such as Poetry, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Orion, and twice on the Academy of American Poetry’s Poem-a-Day digital series, which is distributed to over 350,000 readers. Her essays on the craft of haibun poetry are widely published in poetry craft books and in The Academy of American Poets reference site.

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