On Thursday, Nov. 16., the Visiting Writers Series presented two poets, Mihaela Moucaliuc, Ph.D, and Michael Waters, Ph.D, as they read a variety of their poems to students and faculty in the Great Hall. The event helped shine light on their writing through their publications.
The series began in 2005 and was founded by Michael Thomas, MFA, poet and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. It was introduced with the intention of bringing together writers and the Monmouth community by engaging in a lecture and discussion about the author and their work. It is known to be a celebrated component of the University’s Center of the Arts.
Alex Gilvarry, Director of the M.F.A in Creative Writing and host of the Visiting Writers Series, said, “The VWS is a remarkable series. It brings together people who care about literature, serious readers, both at the University and in the community. Young writers need to hear and meet authors so that they know what’s possible, and what good writing is doing today.”
Gilvarry mentioned how impressed he was by the turnout of the recent series. Over 50 people across the Monmouth community showed up to hear Moscaliuc’s and Waters’ readings, which made it their most attended event of the semester.
Alongside poets Moscaliuc and Waters, the series is known for bringing in international and nationally renowned poets and fiction writers, such as Richard Blanco, former President Obama’s Inauguration poet, Robert Pinsky, former three time US Poet Laureate, and Louise Gluck, Pulitzer Prize winner and US Poet Laureate, according to Monmouth’s website.
Mihaela Moucaliuc is an English Professor and the Graduate Program Director for the Department of English here at Monmouth University, as well as an author of many poetry collections. Some of her books include Cemetery Ink (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021), Immigrant Dirt (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), and Father Dirt (Alice James Books, 2010).
Moucaliuc commented, “I was very excited to read from my most recent poetry collection Cemetery Ink, which came out during the pandemic, and also read new work from my manuscript-in-progress Heartmoor. I was very moved by the great turnout–students, colleagues, community members–and the warmth of the audience, and felt honored to read with poet and former MU professor Michael Waters, who launched his fourteenth poetry, Sinnerman, at the event.”
According to her bio on Monmouth’s website, Moscaliuc has a published scholarship in the field of Romani Studies, specifically issues of representation, appropriation, exophony, and code switching. She is also a translation editor for Plume, a writing company.
Michael Waters is a former professor of English Monmouth and is an author of several collections of poems. Some of his works include his recent release, Sinnerman (Etruscan Press 2023), Caw (BOA Editions, 2020), and The Dean of Discipline (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).
Waters’ works have been eatured in various journals, like the American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Yale Review, and Kenyon Review. He is also an award-winning author of five Pushcart Prizes, a 2017 Guggenheim fellow, and has fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright Foundation, and New Jersey State Council of the Arts.
Moscaliuc and Waters each shared a compilation of their poems, consisting of passionate, humorous, and somber pieces that captivated the emotions of their audience.
Gilvarry expressed, “I thought it was a beautiful reading. To hear poetry read to you by the poet–the humor and meaning is so clear and impressionable.”
He continued, “It’s so rare to hear from poets this good, who are also married. So when they both read love poems, with each other in the room, you seem to hang on every word.”
Students and faculty were able to engage in discussion after the presentation of the authors’ works. As the host of the event, Gilvarry asked them intriguing questions and soon opened it to the audience.
“I work closely with Dr. Moscaliuc for the Monmouth Review and took her poetry class last spring, so hearing her read her works was great since I never read any of her poems,” said junior English student Breanna Guinta. “I also never got the chance to take Michael Waters’ classes but have friends who had him and always said how wonderful he was. Being able to hear him present his work was great and helped me understand why his past students loved his classes. Dr. Moscaliuc and Michael Waters are both talented poets and writers!”
When asked about inspiring students, Moscaliuc added, “I hope that at least something, in one poem of another–an image, an idea, a turn, some diction or some cadence–made some students feel the urge to start working on a new poem or to return to a draft to revise, or that it planted some seed of inspiration.”
Guinta adds how inspired she was by their poems and eagerly started writing as soon as she got home.
After the event, students and faculty were able to purchase some of Moscaliuc’s and Waters’ books, interact with the poets, and even get their books signed.