Acclaimed Poet Laureate Visits USC Aiken English Students

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Students enrolled in English classes at the University of South Carolina Aiken had the chance to hear from a guest lecturer who was on campus for the annual James and Mary Oswald Distinguished Writers Series.

Poet, writer, and literary scholar Dr. Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, the guest author for the annual writers series, visited English 102 classes while she was on campus. The students' first major paper in the class was to choose a contemporary poem for a close reading, or a critical analysis of the text. The Oklahoma State Poet Laureate's visit tied directly to the students' classroom experiences and discussions, according to their professor.

"This year, the poems I offered for them to select from were all by Professor Mish," said Dr. Todd Hagstette, assistant professor of English at USC Aiken.

"So, having the opportunity to hear her speak about her work, including the impetus and process behind individual poems, helped the students bridge gaps between the experience and interpretation of literature."

Hagstette says Mish openly shared details of her life, her struggles, and her resolutions through poetry.

"She also gave them a good bit of information on the craft of poetry, including her composition process and the transition of an idea to a finished product."

Mish is the 2017-2018 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. She currently serves as director of The Red Earth Creative Writing MFA @ Oklahoma City University and as advisor to Red Earth Review. At the university, she is a faculty mentor in writing pedagogy, professional writing, and the craft of poetry.

In addition, Mish has written several books. Her most recent books include: What I Learned at the War, a poetry collection (West End Press, 2016) and Oklahomeland: Essays (Lamar University Press, 2015). Her 2009 poetry collection, Work Is Love Made Visible (West End Press) won an Oklahoma Book Award, a Wrangler Award, and the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West.

Mish's poems have appeared in: This Land, Naugatuck River Review, Concho River Review, LABOR: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, World Literature Today, San Pedro River Review, About Place Journal, The Fiddleback, and Yellow Medicine Journal, among others. Essays and short fiction have appeared in Oklahoma Today, Sugar Mule, Crosstimbers, Red Dirt Chronicles, Cybersoleil, and The Emily Dickinson Society International Bulletin's essay series, "Poet to Poet."