UMSL’s new poet laureate for the people

Jennifer Goldring, UMSL's 2013 poet laureate

(Photo by August Jennewein)

Poetry is for everyone, according to Jennifer Goldring (pictured), a student pursuing an MFA in creative writing and the 2013 poet laureate for the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She wants to unveil the contemporary poetry scene to the general public and help debunk the stereotype of poetry as inaccessible and archaic.

“It’s not just Shakespeare and Robert Frost,” Goldring explained. “I want people to see that there is poetry out there for everyone, beyond the typical range people think they know.”

Some of her favorites include Robert Hass, Sharon Olds, Federico Garcia Lorca, Theodore Roethke, and Louise Glück, all poets with very different styles and aesthetics.

“For me poetry is a venue for saying things that people often cannot,” Goldring said. “I believe the poet has a responsibility to express feelings and emotions in a way that resonates and that people can connect with and then absorb and keep with them.”

And she isn’t just talking about poetry that happens in books. Ploughshares Literary Magazine just ranked St. Louis 42nd in literary boroughs across the world for its local bookstores, reading series, publications and creative writing atmosphere. Goldring wants to make sure UMSL’s campus is a part of that scene. As poet laureate she is hosting three events for National Poetry Month:

April 12 – Poetry for Charity in the Millennium Student Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Poets from the MFA in creative writing program will be writing poems on the spot for passersby who make a donation. All donations will support Casa de Salud, a local charity that helps deliver high-quality clinical and mental health services to uninsured and underinsured patients.

April 18 – National Poem in your Pocket Day. MFA students will be passing out small poems for free on the MSC bridge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Poems will also be distributed in classes and can be found at the front desk of the main office for the Department of English, 484 Lucas Hall.

April 25 – A poetry reading at the Pilot House in the MSC from 1 to 3 p.m. Both MFA students and undergraduate members of the creative writing club will be reading their work. An open mic will follow for anyone who is in the spirit of sharing a poem or two or three. The reading is a free event.

All events are open to the public.

Goldring has been a featured reader at the St. Louis Poetry Center’s Poetry at the Point reading series and at Chance Operations, a St. Louis-based reading series run by local poets and artists. She is on the board of the St. Louis Poetry Center and is its Membership Coordinator. She currently works as a Branch Administrator for Sirius Computer Solutions. After she finishes her MFA, she plans on working in nonprofit arts management or literary editing. She will, of course, continue to write and share her work with the world.


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