Honorary Chancellor Eric Torgersen

EricTorgersen“I guess it’s official now: I’ve been asked to be the next (for two years) Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan. I’ve accepted and am honored and grateful. My immediate predecessor was the sage and gracious Larry Thomas, and before that the amazing Jack Ridl.”
– Eric Torgersen

Eric Torgersen has published eight books and chapbooks of poetry, two of fiction, and a full-length study of Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker. His most recent book is In Which We See Our Selves: American Ghazals from Mayapple Press. Mr. Torgersen also translates German poetry, especially that of Rainer Maria Rilke and Nicolas Born.

Eric was born in Melville, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. Since retiring, Eric has volunteered for the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. He enjoys fishing and foraging for wild mushrooms. He is available for workshops and readings.

In her invitation to Mr. Torgersen PSM President, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, wrote, “because of your years of service, your gracious demeanor, your fine poetry, and your keen observations about life, we ask you to consider our request.”

I Will Die in Lake Superior

I will die in Lake Superior on an August night,
naked because it is dark
and I ran out of the sauna, all rosy and wrinkly
in the candlelight of the cabin,
though in the dark outside no one will see,
not even I in my last moments—
thin moon, stars all blazing and boiling
like I’m Vincent van Gogh,
but I will have left my glasses in the bathroom.

I’ll feel that first chill grip as I hit the water,
and think, “My heart is pounding,
as it should be”; then I’ll dive in and go under,
once, again, and a third time
as the pounding grows, as if something really
large means to be let in.
I’ll turn to go back, but the dim light of the cabin
will get farther and farther away,
as if I were carried off by some huge wave.

– Eric Torgersen