Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

The Poetry Center at West Chester University held a poetry reading in the Philips Autograph Library on Tuesday, April 5, featuring poet Alfred Corn.

Corn has published over 10 books of poems, a published novel, two collections of essays, and a study on prose. He has received many prizes for his work, including the Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and two Awards in Literature.

Sam Gwynn, the Program Coordinator of the Poetry Center, presented Alfred Corn before the poetry reading.

He praised the poet for “his versatility as a writer.”

“He’s one of the most friendly and approachable poets,” said Gwynn.

Gwynn then continued to say that Corn was, “a person, a poet of passion, and a man of manners.”

Corn admitted that he was intimidated to be there and said that some people thought that going to poetry readings “can be like going to church and have to be on your best behaviors.”

Instead of acting like that, however, he encouraged his audience to stretch and get comfortable, and asked only that no one left before he was finished.

He said, “Many people don’t get it [poetry] and don’t like it because poetry readings can be boring.”

Corn has been encouraged to “always tell a lot of jokes because people love to laugh,” but according to him, he doesn’t have a good sense of humor. With that, the audience laughed.

He started with a poem about travel and said that he has been to 25 countries and has been to all 50 states in the U.S. Many of his poems featured traveling, but he also read some about sports due to the big sports events that were happening that week, and even some poems about the environment.

“I’m something of an environmentalist, which has made me gloomy these days because of what’s been happening to the planet,” he said.

WCU is hosting a Poetry Conference from June 8 to June 11, and Corn will be presenting a workshop entitled “Rhyme as Rorschach.”

Workshops will be happening all three days, along with critical seminars, a conert, and a carnival.

The conference advertises, “The WCU Poetry Conference stands out among other writers’ conferences both for its unique focus on the traditional craft of poetry and for the way it combines a writers’ conference with a scholarly conference. Writers, critics, and students mix together in a notably friendly, informal, and egalitarian atmosphere.”

Retired English professor Michael Peich, who is the founder of the Poetry Conference, offers a full scholarship to the conference for a WCU student. Applications are due by May 1, and details may be found on the Poetry Center’s website.

Dana Perkiss is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. Contact them at

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