Professor shares new poetry book
Alaina Anderson | Thursday, October 30, 2014
Tuesday evening, Saint Mary’s department of business administration and economics hosted a poetry reading honoring the poetry of Dr. Jerome McElroy, professor of economics. McElroy read from his new chapbook, titled “Hidden Graces.”
Professor emeritus of religious studies Keith Egan introduced McElroy and said it was an honor to introduce such a great poet and scholar who has published more than 140 poems, published or co-published 17 books and monographs and produced nearly 142 scholarly papers, which resulted from McElroy’s research into the economies of the islands of the Caribbean.
“Poet Jerome McElroy sees what we do not see, and he shares with us sparkling images which bring alive transcendent realities that lift up the heart and mind,” Egan said.
McElroy called his reading for the evening “wings and roots.” He started with reading “the wings,” which included poems from his chapbook “Hidden Graces.” Then, he read poems about “the roots,” which were poems that acted as the inspirations for his chapbook, coming from his personal experiences.
“If I had a goal in mind, it would be to write such a beautiful poem about our Lord that it would be like a painting, so beautiful that it would make him irresistible to the reader,” McElroy said. “In my poem ‘Ricochet,’ the hemorrhaging woman spins out after she’s touched Jesus’ garment and comes back to face Him.
“I think she comes back because Jesus is so irresistible and she won’t miss this opportunity even though all of her shame will come out. I want to write a poem so irresistible so that readers can’t walk away, like the woman.”
McElroy has touched the lives of his students but said one of his favorite parts about being a professor at Saint Mary’s is how courteous and respectful the students are.
“There are a lot of different aspects for why I enjoy being a professor at Saint Mary’s,” McElroy said. “I enjoy the small classes, interesting students, but mostly, I find the students here to be strikingly courteous. Their courtesy always impresses me, and I really appreciate that about them.”
One of McElroy’s students, junior Victoire Michel, said she thought his poetry was very beautiful, funny and enlightening.
“I could definitely hear through Professor McElroy’s poetry him teaching, but in a different and really interesting way,” Michel said. “I have him in class and even though he was reading his poetry, it was almost as if he was teaching and it was interesting to witness that. I’m very happy I came to support him.”
McElroy said it’s a very special occasion to read his poetry in front of friends, family and students. He said it’s important for poetry to be read aloud because a lot is missed from a poem when it’s not read for people to hear.
“Poetry is song. … The rhythm tells the story and it adds so much to what you’re trying to convey,” McElroy said. “Particularly in the last two lines of any poem, that’s where the power impacts, and you want to hear those lines ring out. The sound of a poem should compliment the senses.”
Egan said the world would be ever more congenial if there were more poets like Jerome McElroy, ones who see so deeply into people, things and events and discover that they love what they see and encounter.
“Jerry McElroy the scholar has passed onto his students a profound appreciation for scholarship and with his poetry an appreciation for elegance gained through simplicity of expression,” Egan said. “Jerry has taught them and us to gaze on creation and see its sacramental reality. For that gift, we owe Jerry enduring gratitude.”