Honors Program Instructor Publishes Book of Poems
An instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences is celebrating the publication of a new collection of poetry.
Georgia Popoff—a poet, writer and part-time lecturer in the Renée Crown University Honors Program—is the author of “Psalter: The Agnostic’s Book of Common Curiosities” (Tiger Bark Press, 2015). “Psalter” marks Popoff’s third collection of poetry and fourth book in print.
A launch party for the book will be held on Friday, June 19, at 7 p.m. at the Downtown Writer’s Center (DWC) of the Arts Branch of the YMCA of Greater Syracuse (340 Montgomery St.). “Psalter” will be available for sale, along with copies of Popoff’s acclaimed second book of poetry, “The Doom Weaver” (Main Street Rag, 2008).
Stephen Kuusisto, director of the honors program, is proud of Popoff’s achievement. “Poetry is how we recognize immaterial dreams and wishes,” he says. “A true poet must be part Sufi, part skeptic; both mathematician and map maker. In ‘Psalter,’ Georgia Popoff’s narrator is all of these and more. The poems in this rich new collection are unafraid of the soul.”
Adds Michael Burkard, associate professor of English: “’Psalter’ is a poetry of uncommon surprises. The varied landscapes of these poems are compelling, urgent and tender. The poems walk with melodic insight in a neighborhood of life. Being human has an edginess, and these are lively edges.”
Nearly eight years in the making, “Psalter” is described by Popoff as a semiautobiographical work where her experiences are channeled through a character known as Joy the Agnostic. “It represents my life as a poet, along with my questions, amazing moments, poignant exchanges, compassion and outrage at times I’ve accrued from my work in public school and community settings,” she says.
Already, Popoff and “Psalter” have drawn praise from local literati, including Charles Martin, renowned poet, critic and translator (“a poet of real accomplishment”); Jennifer Glancy, professor of religious studies at Le Moyne College (“writes with humor, ambivalent longing and hard-won acceptance of finitude”); and Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi, abbot of both the Zen Studies Society and Zen Center of Syracuse (“an intimate and generous invitation into a poet’s heart”).
Popoff’s recent honors and awards include the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Unsung Hero Award and a Chancellor’s Feinstone Grant for Multicultural Initiatives. One of her books, “Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy, and Social Justice in Classroom and Community” (Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 2011), co-authored with poet Quraysh Ali Lansana, was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Instructional Literature.
“My goal is to instill a passion for language, reading, writing and the art of poetry in anyone willing to suspend belief that they cannot express or interpret for themselves,” Popoff says.