Touro Faculty Poet Series–Part IV

We end our Faculty Poet blog series for this year with Professor Baruch November. Professor November has an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught courses in Shakespeare, poetry, and writing at Touro College in Manhattan for more than a decade. His poems and short fiction have been featured in Paterson Literary Review, Lumina, New Myths, The Forward, Jewish Journal, Poetica, and Jewish Literary Journal, and his collection of poems entitled Dry Nectars of Plenty co-won BigCityLit’s chapbook contest in 2003. His newly released full-length collection of poetry is entitled Bar Mitzvah Dreams on which he gave an interview recently.

Bar Mitzvah dreams
Cover of Bar Mitzvah Dreams by Baruch November

 

What prompted you to write poetry?

My mother says I wrote a poem as early as first grade about a chicken or turkey. I have no idea what prompted that, but I wish I still had the poem because it is not easy to write a poem about a chicken or turkey. However, I didn’t start writing poetry seriously until college where I took creative writing classes with teachers who encouraged me to take my writing seriously. They made me feel like I had a talent for writing that was worth pursuing. This was a different feeling than succeeding in other types of classes because it felt like I was creating something, instead of responding to class materials. It made me feel like what we were doing in those classes was unique and individualistic, rather than conforming to the concepts experts had written in a textbook.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?

My poems are written in free verse. I need the freedom. I never write in form. I am not attracted to form but someday I might be. Now, I really don’t even read poems in form anymore, except Shakespeare’s sonnets. Furthermore, I feel like my poems tell a story or share an idea. When I was younger, I explored language more. Now, I am more interested in telling a story and sharing something meaningful. However, the effective and creative use of language is still integral to my poetry– I just feel like it has to be the delivery system for powerful ideas or narratives.

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? Or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

Well, since I teach both Introduction to Poetry and Shakespeare, poetry has a major impact on my students. I love interpreting poetry with students. It is always interesting to hear their analysis of a poem, even if I don’t agree with it. I think the close analysis of a poem– done word by word– helps students think more carefully about their own word choices and the ideas they are sharing in their writing. I hope it makes them realize the value of each written word.

Because of the nature of the poetry in my courses, it also allows me to delve into major philosophical questions about death, genocide, and how we treat our fellow man, among other things. Death and genocide are pretty grim, but I think in order to really understand the value of life such things need to be faced, and poetry is an arena for bringing up such matters, because, as Wallace Stevens explained, the job of poetry is to intensify life. What can be more intense than those topics? I think some students cringe at talking about death, but in order to truly live a meaningful and explored life, we have to delve into all parts of it. Furthermore, I hope those poems about death affect my students in such a way that they find more value in each day they live, knowing death is there lurking in the shadows somewhere in the distant future.

Contributed by Professor Baruch November, Language & Literature, NYSCAS, Touro College.

BN
Professor November at the 6th Annual Festival of Touro Faculty & Student Poetry Reading on April 16 at Touro’s Main campus (31st Street)

For more information on Professor November’s poems, please go to Touro Scholar.

 

Contributed by Baruch November, professor of Languages and Literature at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) at Touro College.

 

 

Touro Faculty Poet Series — Part III

by Bob Gwaltney - Brenda Coultas
Brenda Coultas by Bob Gwaltney

As we continue with celebrating National Poetry Month, we briefly interviewed professor Brenda Coultas from Touro’s NYSCAS to tell us a bit about herself as a poet. Professor Coultas is the author of The Tatters, a collection of poetry, recently published by Wesleyan University Press. Other books include The Marvelous Bones of Time (2008) and A Handmade Museum (2003) from Coffee House Press.  Her poetry can be found in The Brooklyn RailWitness and the Denver Quarterly.  she is a mentor in the Emerge-Surface-Be program sponsored by The Poetry Project and The Jerome Foundation. Click here to see more of her literary publications.

What prompted you to write poetry?

I fell in love with reading in the first grade and couldn’t stop. Reading gives me great pleasure: novels, poems, short stories, and plays. I read everything even advertising and graffiti. So falling in love lead to the desire to write what I would want to read.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?

I began as a fiction writer but fell under the influence of poets, so my writing is cross-genre; a hybrid of prose and poetry.

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

I am interested in the possibility of poetry for locating oneself in time and space, as an inquiry into the natural world, and as a critique of human-made systems. The classroom is a laboratory in which to experiment with prose and poetry: To try out shapes and test beliefs, to create writing structures, to discover or refine—in a supportive environment—the shape and sound of visions and voices. The students’ generating processes might involve looking at an object or event and connecting the hidden strings or the patterns within. I guide my students with prompts and approaches to circle the subject of their gaze again and again from diverse perspectives.

Brenda Coultas
Professor Coultas reading her poems at the 6th Annual Festival of Touro Faculty & Student Poetry reading on April 16 at the Main Campus (31st Street)

Contributed by Brenda Coultas, professor of Languages and Literature at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) at Touro College.

 

 

Touro Faculty Poet Series–Part II

Our second poet faculty for National Poetry Month is Professor Helen Mitsios. She holds an MA in English and American Literature from Arizona State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Professor Mitsios is an award-winning poet and author of the collection If Black Had A Shadow. Click here to see a list of her poems on Touro Scholar, our institutional repository. She teaches literature at NYSCAS, a division of Touro College. Keep reading to learn what has inspired her to write poetry and how she connects poetry to teaching and learning.
What prompted you to write poetry?

I wrote poetry even in grade school. But it wasn’t until I read Letters to a Stranger by Thomas James that I wanted to become a “real” poet and learn the poetic art of moving the emotions in my writing–the emotions being, after all,  the basis of everything. I thank my professor, the celebrated poet Norman Dubie, for introducing me to James in an undergrad poetry class I took at Arizona State University.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?  Lyric poetry

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? Or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

In teaching, I stress quality over quantity. Of course, both are necessary. 

Well, I’m biased of course, but I think studies that promote creativity also lead to innovation in fields like business, science, and medicine. For example, it’s why Harvard University admits artists and poets to their MBA program.

Helen Mitsios portrait by Tony Winters DSC_0145 copy 2
Portrait of Professor Helen Mitsios by Tony Winters

Contributed by Professor Helen Mitsios, Language and Literature, NYSCAS, Touro College.

 

 

April is National Poetry Month (Poet’s Series)

In honor of National Poetry Month, Touro Libraries will introduce a Touro professor who is also a poet, every week for the rest of the month of April. Our first pick is Dr. Mark Teaford, Vice Chair of the Department of Basic Science and Coordinator of Fundamentals of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California.

Keep reading to see what led Dr. Teaford to the path of becoming a poet, what kind of poems he is composing, and if reading and writing poetry can play a role in the education of medical students.  Continue reading

Celebrating Spring and the Persian New Year at the same time!

Spring Blossoms
aaron-burden from Unsplash

The Persian New Year begins on the first day of Spring, which falls on March 20th this year. It is called Norooz, which translates roughly into New Day.  Though its origin goes back to the faith of Zoroastrians, this day has been celebrated for over three thousand years, by almost every Iranian, as well as by other countries that have been influenced by this Persian tradition over the centuries.  It is considered a secular holiday, and therefore religion and ethnicity differences are put aside during this time of celebration. Continue reading

Who is that masked man? Happy Purim!

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09614.JPG •Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD – Royal Ontario Museum – DSC09614.JPG  Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011

On the night of Wednesday, March 20th, after having fasted all day Jews all over the world will gather in synagogues, houses of worship, places of study, and sometimes in their own homes to hear the story of Purim.

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Librarians and their “Cat Bags”

cat1
Bay Shore Library

One doesn’t have to be a librarian for long to find out that the first thing to do at a professional library conference is making a beeline straight to the Baker & Taylor table to get a shopping bag.  The very first experience will have you hooked on repeating this activity.  While this tradition falls under the things they don’t tell you in library school, you do learn about Baker & Taylor as a book distributor for libraries.  Any decent library conference will have Baker & Taylor among its publishers, but it is their beautiful shopping bags with cats on them that is eye-catching to all.  It doesn’t take long to learn that these cats are the company’s mascots.

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Learn how to legally re-use your own figures

Do you create figures for your papers? And then publish your papers in closed-access journals?

Copyright agreements will vary from publisher to publisher, but if you have created your own figures and illustrations for your publication, nobody else will be able to reuse them, unless they are granted permission by the publisher. In some cases, not even you, as the author, would have permission to reuse those figures.

Sara Hänzi explains how to legally re-use your own figures and, in turn, create more visibility to your work.

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