Rogers reads, signs award-winning book of poems; speaks about writing process

Bobby Rogers, professor of English, signs a copy of his book of poetry, “Paper Anniversary,” for junior English majors Justin McEachron and Michael O’Malley. Rogers has been recognized for his work in multiple publications and received the 2009 Starrett Prize for Poetry. | Photo by Abigail Harris

By Zach Palermo

Professor Bobby Rogers read sections from his recently published poetry book, “Paper Anniversary,” last Thursday at Barefoots Joe, followed by a book-signing shortly afterward.

“Paper Anniversary” is composed of selected works written from the time he completed graduate school to this past year, and though they do not follow a specific theme, Rogers picked some of his best for the reading, including “Anagnorisis” and “The Creative Process.”

“Rogers really seemed to be enjoying himself,” said Justin McEachron, junior creative writing major. “Free coffee, good poems, and little cheese cubes — you can’t go wrong with that.”

Before reading his poetry, Rogers prefaced his work by discussing the creative writing process.

“It was great,” McEachron said. “ Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.”

Rogers said he is excited to have his first book published after a long period of having it sent out. He commented that the award has helped jump-start his career and has resulted in invitations to perform readings at locations including Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

Rogers, professor of English, recently won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh Press, for his book. The Starrett Poetry Prize is open to all English poets who have not had a full-length book of poetry published before.

Winners of the prize are awarded $5,000 and are published by the University of Pittsburgh Press as a part of their ongoing Pitt Poetry Series.

“It’s always good to find an audience,” Rogers said. “The audience for poetry is small and really always has been.”

The Starrett Poetry Prize is “one of the best first-book awards,” Rogers said. Consequently, the competition for the poetry prize is difficult.

Rogers joked that he has been trying to become a published author “since birth.” He has had individual poems published in various magazines and newspapers, such as “Image” and “The Georgia Review.”

The reading and book-signing took place after a few short speeches by Union faculty members publicly celebrating Rogers’ work and first published poetry book.

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