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Oak Leaves

September 27, 2019


Jeff Gundy

Professor and published poet Jeff Gundy reads his poetry to his audience in Wine Recital Hall.  

Photo by Chloe Arndt

Jeff Gundy Leads VIA Discussion, Reads His Own Poetry


Erin Hickle

 

Author of eight collections of poetry, professor at Bluffton University and 2014 Ohio Poet of the Year, Jeff Gundy is a respected author and teacher. He has visited Manchester University several times, and on Sept. 17 he returned to give an afternoon VIA followed by an evening poetry reading to the students and faculty.

The VIA was put on by Gundy and English adjunct instructor Travis Poling. Gathered in Cordier Auditorium, students listened as he both gave background and shared stories regarding William Stafford, an American poet and pacifist who spent a year teaching at Manchester from 1955 to 1956. Then Gundy showed a short documentary based on Stafford’s internment as a conscious objector during World War II, followed by a Q&A.

That evening Gundy spoke to students and faculty in Wine Recital Hall, at 7 p.m. This time, he was reading from his many collections of poetry, sharing many of his poems while also providing his audience with background stories and other works of literature that inspire him— from chickens to Oscar Wilde.

The audience sat quietly, hanging on to Gundy’s words and every once in a while, offering a chuckle when appropriate. “I tend to think of poetry as the real writing,” Gundy said. “It’s a personal preference. I like the compression of poetry and the rhythm and sound and so forth you can work with it when you’re trying to make everything shine and glow.”

After Gundy finished reading his poetry selections, he opened up the floor to questions from the audience. The professor in him came out as he encouraged every student to ask a question, as it would impress their teachers. A variety of questions were asked about how he writes, why he writes, and if he has noticed a change in his writing over time. Gundy gave thoughtful answers, leaving the audience with more to ponder about.

Dr. Charles Boebel, professor emeritus of English, recalled that he had heard Gundy’s poetry during his earlier visits to Manchester, and inquired about how Gundy felt his writings have changed over the years. Had he noticed a development? Boebel even recalled topics of Gundy’s poetry that he had read in the past in comparison to the topics of his poetry for this evening. “As our circumstances change so does our writing,” Gundy said. “There’s that whole process-of-moving-through life thing. In ways I don’t want to change all of that. I want to keep some sense of who I used to be tied with who I am now."

Gundy’s books of poetry can be found across the internet for ordering or reading pleasure. His titles include “Abandoned Homeland,” “Somewhere Near Defiance,” “Spoken among the Trees,” “Rhapsody with Dark Matter” and “Flatlands.” He also has published two books with a focus on his religious background along with a few journals. These works of literature have won him both prizes and respect among the literary community.