By Peter Cooley, Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing
Senior Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Poet Laureate, Louisiana
In the annual event sponsored by the Poetry Society of America and the Tulane English Department, Poet Dan Beachy-Quick gave a reading of his own poetry on March 13, 2017 in Freeman Auditorium on Tulane's uptown campus. Beachy-Quick, one of the foremost experimental poets of his generation, read a selection from his eight books and was interviewed by Peter Cooley, Director of Creative Writing, Senior Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Poet Laureate of Louisiana.
Beachy-Quick, a recent Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry, was asked by Cooley where the classical references in his poems came from, and he recounted that he has been teaching himself ancient Greek for two to three hours each day for several years since there is no professor of ancient Greek at the university where he teaches.
A student asked why he was so obsessed with Moby Dick that Beachy-Quick had written a giant critical book on it as well as a number of poems. “You really can find anything in it you want,“ Beachy-Quick answered. ”It’s a poem, it’s a novel, it’s social history.” Beachy-Quick, who has also written a novel and several critical books on poetry, is currently Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Colorado State University and is a graduate of the Program in Creative Writing at University of Iowa.
Tulane’s collaboration with the Poetry Society of America allows the university to feature nationally known poets on our campus.
This event was sponsored by alumnus Craig Platt (SLA ' 99), whose generosity and commitment to the creative writing program allowed us to bring nationally-known poets to Tulane's campus and greater New Orleans community.
"Literature and creative writing was what inspired me most when I was a student at Tulane. Participating in creative writing classes helped me develop the tools to create what I always felt was on the tip of my tongue into clear thoughts that were designed to evoke a reaction or an emotion from the reader. In addition, it was one of the only classes that offered a venue for discussion and critique. That round table method has been the key to my professional success since college. While at Tulane, the program was very small, and when writers did visit it was incredibly exciting – I remember having award-winning American author Ann Patchett visit our class to discuss writing and critique each of us. Creative writing has been the most exhilarating intellectual endeavor of my life. I am happy that I am able to support the program at the university that helped to shape who I am today." – Craig Platt (SLA ' 99)