A poet explained: CWS spotlight shines on Dr. Stephen Germic

Photo courtesy of Aquinas College

By Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor 

“All the new thinking is about loss./ In this it resembles all the old thinking.”

This line from Robert Haas’ poem, “Meditation at Lagunitas” perfectly summarizes the poetry of Aquinas College Provost, Dr. Stephen Germic, who was the first author featured as a part of the Contemporary Writers Series of the fall semester. 

Beginning with a poem called “Some Corpses Explained,” Germic captivated his virtual audiences with a striking description of a siege of dragonflies. It became evident that powerful, and often juxtaposed images, were one of Germic’s undeniable strengths as a poet. In “Maybe I Didn’t Dream,” set in Montana, lines such as “by August, even the rocks were feral” showed the influence of imagism was unmistakable and breathtaking. 

Another particularly notable feature of “Maybe I Didn’t Dream” was Germic’s confession that the poem carried a meaning that he had not yet identified, although he was beginning to realize that the theme of death had a strong presence. Acceptance of a poem’s innate flexibility and temperamental nature seemed to be a deeply instilled component of Germic’s literary practice. 

“If you want to devote yourself to an art…you need to be obsessed,” Germic said. It’s safe to say that Germic is most definitely obsessed, having experience teaching English at universities ranging from James Madison University to Michigan State. He also spent time at American University in Cairo. However, Germic said that he still considers himself an amateur, and lamented that he hadn’t been spending as much time on his craft of late. 

One summer, Germic set himself the task of choosing twelve types of form poems and attempting to write at least one poem for each one. At the end of the summer, he’d completed only one poem, a villanelle entield “Villanelle for First Snow.” A villanelle is heavily reliant on two repeating rhymes and two refrains, which create a simultaneous echo and dialogue. Germic emphasized the importance of the writer’s duty to form and structure and advised aspiring writers to “be attentive to technique.” 

Dr. Mancilla of the English Department asked Germic how he knew when he was finished writing a poem. Germic’s immediate answer was, “I don’t know. Even when I was reading, I wanted to change…things.” He advocated for a writing practice devoted to careful observation of one’s environment, to shake off distraction and dive, headfirst into a world of description. “We crave detail,” he said. “It’s impossible to have writer’s block.”

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