Michigan poets who have been appreciated internationally will be highlighted by having their poems enlarged in freestanding frames in downtown South Lyon and Paul Baker Park for the month of April, National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Cultural Arts Commission of South Lyon. Among the featured poets are MPS Honorary Chancellor, Eric Torgersen.
The free-standing frames, in which the enlarged poems will be housed, were provided by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs as part of a previous Art and Commerce Grant for holding artworks.
Poets whose work will be displayed are: Terry Blackhawk (Detroit; Mexico), Melba Boyd, (Detroit; China), Linda Nemec Foster (Grand Rapids; Poland), Tom Lynch (Milford; Ireland), Christine Rhein (Brighton; Italy), Jack Ridl (Saugatuck; Germany), Alison Swan (Ann Arbor, Ireland), Eric Torgerson (Mount Pleasant; Italy) and Melba Boyd (Detroit; China).
With In Which We See Our Selves, Eric Torgersen begins with the formal structure of the ghazal as popularized by Agha Shahid Ali and unapologetically makes a more American thing of it, arguing in his Afterword that this transformation is as inevitable as what happens when the children of immigrant parents pass through an American junior high school: not everyone is pleased with the result. “I’ve tried to avoid faux-Eastern themes and tones,” he writes. Fluently metrical and effortlessly rhymed, at times in short, hard-hitting lines with refrains as brief as a single word, these poems leap off the page with speech as American as this:
My gang all quit when I didn’t split the take right.
We crashed and burned when I didn’t hit the brake right.
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Eric Torgersen 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.
Mr. Torgersen is presently serving a two-year term as Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan.