Student Voices: Quince
If you follow convention, a 15th anniversary is typically marked with crystal. There is very little that is conventional about Lisa Russ Spaar and the University of Virginia’s Area Program in Poetry Writing (APPW), however, and thus it is no surprise that they have marked their own similar milestone by spinning some pure gold. With the extraordinary help of rising fourth-year student Kirsten Hemrich (College ‘18), a double-major in English/APPW and Studio Art, the program recently released Quince, an extraordinary anthology of poems by students throughout the program’s history that covers a wide array of themes and reflects on the worlds its writers have seen, the people they have known, and the futures they imagine. The APPW was conceived by Spaar in 2000 as a concentration allowing talented undergraduate writers a chance to focus on the craft of poetry writing while pursuing their English major at UVA. Spaar, who has directed the program since its founding, felt like this particular milestone was a great time to look back and celebrate the work by poets the program has sent out into the world. The anthology features work by 81 of the program’s 150 alumni, including many who have gone on to make the art form their careers, as well as many who have taken its soul-filling inspiration into other professional endeavors. Quince features the work of doctors, doulas, lawyers, stockbrokers, musicians, teachers, librarians and more. As Spaar writes in the Foreword, “As the poems and poet biographies reveal, the praxis and love of poetry is a lifetime engagement. . .The past decade and a half have seen a great many changes in the ways in which world and word mesh; the cosmos of poems collected here, and the global frisson of meaning-making these poets and poems represent, are occasion for great gratitude and celebration.” Also playing a big part in the creation of the anthology were UVA Creative Writing Professor Jeb Livingood and the students in his Literary Editing class, who dedicated their keen eyes and open hearts to making it a reality.