Ross, Rhodes recite at Poetry Center

Article by: Angela Bray

“You can’t write without reading first,” she said. “To be a good writer, you need to read a lot, and use it for inspiration.”

Suffolk University’s library in 73 Tremont contains hidden nooks used for things on campus that some students might not be aware of. One of these is located towards the back of the third floor, a room dedicated to poetry. Poets Anna Ross and Martha Rhodes read their work in Suffolk’s Poetry Center on Thursday evening. “Poetry readings are good because you can hear your own work and consider the audience’s reactions,” said Ross. Fred Marchant, English professor and Director of Creative Writing and the Poetry Center, introduced the poets and shared their backgrounds.

“We all have goals in life; one of mine was to have Fred Marchant introduce me at a reading,” Ross said when stepping up to the podium. Ross holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College and an MFA from Columbia University. When in school, she was an English major with a minor in music. “Working on music and voice influenced my work, especially with poetry,” said Ross.

Her poetry has been published in several journals, including Agni, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Salamander, and The Southwest Review. Ross’ chapbook, Hawk Weather, has recently been named the winner of the 2008 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. At the reading, she shared pieces from her chapbook, along with more recent poems.

“You can’t write without reading first,” she said. “To be a good writer, you need to read a lot, and use it for inspiration.”

“Much of my book details parts of my life,” said Ross. “Many are about traveling and different natural landscapes. Travel inspires me, as well as science and things that I see and read about.”  “Evidence” takes place in southwestern Montana, “Under the Southern Cross” takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and “In the Conservatory” in the Bronx, New York. Other poems she read related to the issues of natural disaster, loss, and miscarriage.

Ross is a contributing editor for Gernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics and also teaches poetry and writing. For the 2004-2005 academic year, Ross taught an English 101 course at Suffolk.

Rhodes is the director of Four Way Books in New York City and is the author of three poetry collections: At The Gate, Mother Quiet, and Perfect Disappearance (winner of the Green Rose Prize). Her work is published in numerous anthologies, including Agni, 30 Years, and The New American Poet. Among the journals that have published her poems are American Poetry Review, Columbia, Fence, New England Review, TriQuarterly, and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

“I think she [Rhodes] offers us, in her poetry, the experience of courageous and imagination,” said Marchant.

Rhodes told the audience she would be reading from work that is in progress; she also informed of her working title, “The Beds.”

“My poems do have titles, and I like them,” said Rhodes, although she sometimes does not tell the title when reading. A variety of poems were shared, all with different topics. A few of them left the audience chuckling, such as those about being scared of frogs, falling into a wedding cake, and eating all of the donuts in New York City.

Rhodes teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.