Culture / The Saint

The poems they brought back: Irish Studies Poetry Night

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Ellen Leegwater prepares to read from a book of poetry from Artisan House, a publishing house in Ireland.

Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Sierra Mason

An evening of readings showcased the work of six authors—three students and three professors—of the semester in Ireland, Aquinas College’s flagship study abroad program, which celebrated its 45th anniversary during Homecoming this year.

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Dr. Michelle DeRose, Coordinator of the Irish Studies minor, organized the event.

The event, which drew an enthusiastic audience of about 20 people, took place in the Loutit room in upper Wege on Thursday, September 20.  The work featured was all either written in Ireland or inspired by the authorsʼ time in Ireland.  The authors ranged in time from the late Sr. Mona Schwind, O.P., who directed the Ireland program during 1973 to 1975 and again in 1978 and 1981, to senior Ellen Leegwater, who was a student in the Ireland program just last semester.  

The event opened with three of Sr. Mona’s poems, read by Dr. Molly Patterson, who has herself served as faculty for the Ireland semester.  The next reader was Ellen Leegwater, who read a journal entry. This was followed by poetry from Kirsten Fedorowicz, who was a student in the 2017 edition of the Ireland program. Next up was alumna Miranda Burel, who had participated in the Ireland semester in 2014, and has gone back to Ireland twice since.  Burel read one poem, which she had originally started in fiction writing class. After Burel, Dr. Michelle DeRose, the organizer of the event, who has also served as faculty in Ireland, read three poems. The next reader, who also read three poems, was Professor Emerita Miriam Pederson, who had been Ireland semester faculty five times from 1992 to 2009.  The readings closed with Leegwater reading a poem from a book from Artisan House, a publishing company in Ireland. Additionally, Dr. DeRose said that Aquinas is in talks with Artisan House about publishing a volume of work by Aquinas writers and photographers for the 50th anniversary of the Ireland program.

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Professor Emerita Miriam Pederson reads her work.

All of the readings of the evening were deeply infused with a sense of place, steeped in the authorsʼ palpable love of the landscape of Tullycross, its surroundings, its people, and the people who went there from Aquinas.  The whole event had an air of celebration, of joyful reminiscence, and of recounting old, favourite stories. The readers, as well as those people in the audience who had also been in the Ireland program, seemed to be reliving their time at Tullycross, to have been transported, both in space and in time, back to their respective semesters there.  Long after the readings were over, three quarters of the original crowd was still in the room, lively with conversation.

About the Writer…

Yashowanto GhoshYashowanto Ghosh is a senior with a major in communication and minors in journalism and writing. Jasho is also an alumnus of Aquinas (B.A. German ’11).

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