Taije Silverman

Visiting Writer Taije Silverman

Poet Taije Silverman came to Wilson Hall for the second Visiting Writers Series of the semester on Nov. 18.

Silverman is the author of Houses are Fields, a collection of poems focusing on the themes of intimacy and loss. She is an author who didn’t choose poetry, but poetry chose her.

Silverman has recently finished her second manuscript, which explores many contemporary issues. Silverman said during the reading, “My second book is about sexism and racism, lots of isms but never do I say -ism throughout the book.” She went on to explain that these pieces are to help normalize life when you have so many voices talking around you.

Not only is Silverman an amazing, dedicated poet, but she is also bilingual. In between two readings, she had a conversation with one of the Italian professors here at Monmouth in Italian.

Through the Visiting Writers Series, students, faculty, and the public had the opportunity to ask Silverman about her book and her writing process, among other things.

The Visiting Writers Series provides students with the opportunity to broaden their horizons. A junior history and English student, James Watson, was required to attend this event for class, but having never been to one of these events, he said that he was surprised by how insightful he found it. He added, “Although I am more into fiction, because of this event I would be willing to try poetry.”

Many of Silverman’s poems were about grief or pain because she writes about her own experiences. In fact, she read one of her poems at her fathers’ funeral.

She also read a piece called But I Didn’t Look at Her, which will be featured in the next issue of Southern Issue.

Silverman said that she writes about the truth because she was raised to tell the truth.  Telling the truth makes it okay—it’s the hiding of things that makes her embarrassed.

Silverman gains inspiration from Giovanni Pascoli, an Italian poet of the nineteenth century, while passing on this inspiration to her audience in Wilson Hall. The room was filled with people of various ages, all interested in hearing what Silverman had to say about her craft.

Taking her audience into account, Silverman passed on some valuable advice. She said, “When you send something out to be published, something that can be rejected, don’t fear the rejection. Instead pretend you’re an agent, pretend you are sending it out for someone else, so that if it gets rejected it isn’t your rejection but someone’s that you managed.”

The Visiting Writers Series was founded about 15 years ago by Michael Thomas, Associate Dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences. The series focuses on connecting students with authors who have made an impact on the world.

Authors who have been invited to participate in the Visiting Writers Series are renowned for the works they discuss with their Monmouth audience. Many of these authors are award-winning best sellers who have been recognized by journals, with some even winning the Pulitzer Prize. Among the authors who became a part of this series is Richard Blanco, who was President Obama’s Inauguration poet.

Thomas said, “In the ancient old tradition of the oral performance and recitation of poetry that goes back thousands of years, we get to experience words and language in poetry in its best way, which is from the human voice and people get to have all of these experiences that come through the poet that maybe are not their own, but then become their own once they hear the poems.”

There are many benefits to going to a live reading, but truly being there and hearing what an author  has to share can give someone a whole new perspective. It is up to the students what they receive from an event like this, but if they take the time not only can they make valuable connections, but also step out of their world and into someone else’s, even if it’s just for a little while. That is what the Visiting Writers Series is about.

PHOTO COURTESY of Peter Decherney