On April 6th, author and poet Rebecca Morgan Frank visited UC Clermont to talk about her new book. The event lasted throughout the day: In the morning, there was a “Conversation with the Author” component in which participants learned about the author and her poetry. Later in the day a poetry workshop was offered, and here participants expanded their writing skills through several specially-designed exercises. Finally, a reading and book signing took place in UC Clermont’s library. Rebecca Morgan Frank read excerpts from her new poetry collection to an engaged audience of poetry enthusiasts, and refreshments from Servatii were provided for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy during the event. The reading and book signing had an impressive turnout, and attendees had the opportunity to have their copies of the collection signed.
During the Conversation with the Author meeting, Dr. Frank talked about several aspects of her writing and answered general questions about her poetry. She holds an MFA from Emerson College and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati, and has received many awards and significant recognition for her work. She talked about how she loves the way artists think, and admires how they break normal conventions to create original work. Dr. Frank appreciates reading and writing more complex poems, and mentioned that one thing she dislikes in poetry are references to pop culture. She has lots of experience being an editor, as she is founder and editor-in-chief of an online magazine, and has had her own work published in many well-known periodicals. It is her experience as an editor, she says, that has taught her the most. Another part of poetry that Dr. Frank enjoys is attending readings herself, which she finds very enriching and inspiring.
At the poetry signing workshop, which lasted from 11:00 am to noon, participants had the opportunity to wordsmith their own similes. Then, Dr. Frank discussed several works of poetry by authors Kay Ryan and Andrea Cohen with the audience, to examine the stylistic techniques of the poems. Next, the audience members were given several minutes to write a poem and incorporate similes into it before examining what they wrote for any clichés. One thing Dr. Frank emphasized throughout the workshop was the importance of avoiding clichés, and she encouraged students to create unique expressions instead.
Another concept that Dr. Frank taught at the workshop was the effective choice and use of words and phrases in writing, which is often referred to as diction. She taught the audience about diction through interactive exercises that encouraged students to think more carefully about word choice in their writing. Dr. Frank used the activities to explain how diction creates different meanings within poetry, and how writers who are conscientious of its influence have the ability to write in a more efficacious manner. Finally, participants revised the diction in their own poems. Students then read both their original and revised version aloud in order to compare the two and recognize how stylistic expression and word choice can influence the final product.
Dr. Frank’s third collection of poetry, Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country, is due out this October from Carnegie Mellon. Some of the poems she shared during the reading in the UC Clermont library include her works “At Sea,” “Flight Patterns,” and “Self-Operating Machines.” Some of her work is inspired by her stay in Mississippi, where she taught for four years.
After the reading took place, participants had the chance to ask Dr. Frank questions about her work. One question that was asked had to do with her writing habits and how she gets her imagination flowing. According to Dr. Frank, reading before she writes helps her to focus and get inspired. “Reading helps me transition into thinking about language,” she responded.
Each component of the event was a huge success and was enriching to all of UC Clermont’s students, faculty, and staff who participated. In fact, Dr. Frank has shared her work with the UC Clermont community in the past as well; she did so after her first collection of poetry was published a few years ago. If you weren’t able to attend the reading and book signing but are interested in reading Rebecca Morgan Frank’s poetry, be sure to stop by the bookstore to pick up a copy of her latest collection.