Fishman continues a poetry tradition

Lisa Fishman, Professor of English at Beloit College, read from her new book Thursday.
Reid Stratton

Lisa Fishman, Professor of English at Beloit College, read from her new book Thursday.

Last Thursday, visiting poet Lisa Fishman read from her new book, “Dear, Read.” Fishman is currently an assistant professor of English at Beloit College, and farms at her home in southern Wisconsin. Her first book, “The Deep Heart’s Core is a Suitcase,” was published in 1996.”Dear, Read” has been getting rave reviews from many of the nation’s top poets, including Robert Creeley, who says, “Lisa Fishman writes with an impeccable sense of cadence, of words as sounds too, of physical fact becoming thought and then recurring as poetry.” Her work is described as experimental lyric poetry, and, as experimental poet Michael Palmer points out, Fishman follows the “distinctly American tradition of exploratory lyric.” The influence of Lorine Niedecker and Emily Dickinson shows up strongly in Fishman’s work.

During her visit, Fishman also met with Prof. Faith Barrett’s poetry writing class for a question-and-answer session, and was available to sign books and talk informally with students after her reading. Fishman’s visit continues a tradition of guest poets here at Lawrence that brought Poet Laureate Billy Collins last year, and will bring Robert Creeley next year.

Creeley, one of greatest living poets today, will visit as the Mia T. Paul visiting poet during second term next year. Creeley has published over sixty books, won countless awards and grants, and has been the Poet Laureate for the state of New York since 1992. During his visit he will read from his own works in Harper Hall, bringing his highly regarded reading style to Appleton.

Naturally, any school wants to bring masters of a chosen field to its campus. However, it takes effort and money to make these visits work. So, why should the English department go to all the trouble of bringing these poets to campus? Prof. Barrett explains:

“Visits by guest poets and writers give students the chance to speak with a living, breathing writer about their composition and revision process. Visiting writers also give students a sense of the richness, complexity, and variety of contemporary American literature. Hearing a poet read from his or her work can offer a careful reader and listener a whole new means of understanding the writer’s methods, voice, and relationship to other writers.”

Thanks to funding through the Mia T. Paul Poetry Fund and the Dean of the Faculty, the Lawrence English department is able to provide students with the opportunity to meet and learn from several distinguished poets every year.

If you missed Lisa Fishman’s poetry reading, Faith Barrett, Lisa Fishman, and Anne Shaw will be reading poetry on Saturday, May 8 at the Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Visit for information.