Renowned Poet Marianne Boruch Named Jennifer Jahrling Forese Writer-in-Residence in Creative Writing Fellow

Announcements3 MIN READ
Marianne Boruch, the Jennifer Jahrling Forese Writer-in-Residence in Creative Writing Fellow (Photo by Will Dunlap, courtesy of Marianne Boruch)
By Kardelen Koldas ’15
January 5, 2022

Award-winning poet and Purdue University’s Professor of English, Emerita, Marianne Boruch has been selected as the second Jennifer Jahrling Forese Writer-in-Residence Program in Creative Writing Fellow. Boruch will spend the spring semester at Colby, engaging with the campus as well as the Waterville community through her work. 

“Boruch is a highly accomplished person,” said Michael Burke, professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program. “We’re grateful that she’s so enthusiastic about it [the fellowship].” 

Established by a gift from Jennifer Jahrling Forese and her husband, Trustee Jamie Forese, the Jennifer Jahrling Forese Writer-in-Residence Program in Creative Writing enables Colby students to work alongside accomplished writers for an entire semester and learn from their expertise. 

“​I’m delighted and eager to start working with students and fellow faculty,” said Boruch, who specializes in creative writing and focuses on poetry writing and 20th-century poetry. 

Boruch has written 12 poetry collections, four essay collections, and a memoir. Her work has been widely published in prominent outlets, such as The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and Poetry London. Her book, Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing (Copper Canyon Press, 2016), was among The New Yorker‘s “Most Loved Books of 2016.”

Marianne Boruch, an award-winning poet and Purdue University’s professor of English, emerita, will spend the spring semester at Mayflower Hill to share her expertise with students and the wider community. (Courtesy of Marianne Boruch)

Her career has also been decorated with prestigious awards: A Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two Fulbrights, a Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, and two artist-in-residence awards at national parks, to name but a few. 

Joining Purdue in 1987, she developed and served as the founding director of the university’s creative writing M.A./M.F.A. program as well. She holds a B.S. in English, history, and education from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and an M.F.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

At Colby, she will be a resource on and off campus. “What we want the Jahrling Forese fellow to do is give back in some way to the campus community and to the Waterville community,” noted Burke. Boruch, in collaboration with Diamond Family Director of the Arts Teresa McKinney, is already exploring ways of sharing her work with the local community. 

On Mayflower Hill, Boruch will do readings, hold regular office hours, and teach a self-designed course. This fellowship complements and further enriches the College’s comprehensive Creative Writing Program that offers a wealth of courses and brings nationally recognized writers to campus with its visiting writers series and the Kristina Stahl Writer-in-Residence Program.

Boruch’s course will reimagine and recreate her latest collection of poems, Bestiary Dark (Copper Canyon Press, 2021), and adapt it for the stage. The collection was inspired by her experiences as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Australia and the devastating fires following her departure that hurt or killed about three billion animals. 

This course stemmed from Boruch’s experiences during the book’s writing stage. “I kept hearing them [the poems] as if spoken on a stage, the speakers backlit then going dark when each piece stopped,” she said. “So this project at Colby is the natural playing out of that.”

With her Colby course, she wants to find out what happens when poetry—a private form—is transformed for public viewing.

“This communal effort of ours will be all about process, the making/remaking,” she said. “We’ll aim to entertain while informing, really haunting those in the Colby community and beyond about the grave danger of climate change.” 

This experimental course, coupled with Boruch’s highly accomplished career, was what caught the eye of the selection committee.

“She’s known as a master teacher,” said Burke. “She has a reputation of being magic in the classroom. We want some of that magic [at Colby].”