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Saint Mary’s professor gives poetry reading

Carolynn Smith | Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sr. Eva Mary Hooker spoke on wilderness — its beauty, splendor and power — at a poetry reading called “Notes on Survival in the Wilderness,” Tuesday at Saint Mary’s College.
Hooker has previously given poetry readings in college and university settings, as well as with other poets and writers.

The inspiration for her poems came as a joke, from an actual wilderness survival book. The titles of her poems relate to the chapter titles from that book.

“This is a sequence of poems that explore wilderness, its beauty and natural power,” Hooker said.

Hooker read with ease in a soft but intense voice and captured the audience’s attention as soon as she began reciting her first poem.

She later recited a poem titled, “To Stay Found.”

“To stay found, you must know where you are,” Hooker said.

As she moved through her poems, at times she was able to relate her words to the people of Haiti and their continuing needs.

When asked by a student if she brings her femininity into her writing, Hooker said she brings her femininity into her work more than in the past.

“Now I feel my understanding as a women is so fully integrated that I can’t leave that out,” Hooker said.

There was much appreciation and thanks from the audience not only for the poems, but also for her enthusiasm and strength while reading.

“The way you read your poetry reveals how a poet works,” Dr. Kathleen Dolphin, director of the Center for Spirituality, said to Hooker at the end of her reading.

Hooker has taught English Literature for more than 25 years and has been teaching at Saint Mary’s College for four years. Some of the courses she has taught include first year English courses, contemporary poetry and a poetry writing seminar.

Her poems have appeared in a number of publications including The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, Shenandoah (The Washington and Lee University Review) and the Vermont Literary Review. Her book, “Notes for Survival in the Wilderness,” was a finalist for the Center for Book Arts Award. Another book, “The Winter Keeper,” was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry.