The Creative Writing Program at the University of Connecticut hosted two former poets for a reading of their recent work followed by a question-and-answer session on how to be successful in the field of poetry writing on Wednesday 29 September.
Megan Maguire Dahn and her husband, Matthew Carey Salyer, read several plays that included different types of rhyming and writing techniques, Salyer including powerful pieces from his recently published book, “Ravage and Snare,” and Dahn reading plays. from his poetry book, “Domaine”.
Dahn recently won the Burnside Review’s 2021 Book Press Award for “Domain,” which features rich images of the environment, specifically highlighting the wilderness of the town of Mansfield, Connecticut, where she grew up.
Although Dahn and Salyer are professionally successful in their careers as an English writer and teacher, they were very outspoken when discussing the financial challenges of writing poetry.
“While you can’t make a lot of money just writing poetry, I think it can be very liberating,” Dahn told the students while reading. “There is a lack of pressure that allows your creativity to flow and write what you want to write about.”
Dahn and Salyer started out as classmates in the Creative Writing Program at UConn, and both have taken incredible trips as adults since their time at Storrs.
UConn’s creative writing teacher Penelope Pelizzon, who also attended the event on Wednesday evening, said it was nice to see the writing styles of the two poets evolve over the past few years as she and many other program participants followed Dahn and Salyers. ‘work since they were students.
Pelizzon explained the importance for current students who are interested in the future of poetry writing to start by meeting other student writers in order to get inspiration for writing plays and get new recommendations from. reading to broaden their poetic horizons.
“For any student interested in creative writing, immersing yourself in a place where you read a lot, write a lot and push to learn these skills is the first step to becoming better,” said Pelizzon.
When writing poetry, it’s important to create a “sense of place” or an immersive setting in a room to intrigue readers into the story being told. Salyer and Dahn looked at the challenges of performing this technique during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s hard not to be able to write about a trip to a new and exciting place,” Dahn said. “However, the sense of belonging that I normally create in my writing comes from the life inside my home and the stories of my childhood and how I grew up.”
Pelizzon said she admires the specific imagery Dahn forms in her work and the carefully chosen syntax Salyer introduces into her writing.
Sean Forbes, the director of UConn’s creative writing program, said he hopes the English department can once again welcome these poets and others throughout the school year to give students inspiration for their own work and their poetic impetus.
Students interested in UConn’s Creative Writing program can visit their website for more information on the courses and events the program will be hosting.