Freeman’s new book inspires readers to see things differently

Poetry lovers can soon get their hands on Professor of English Glenn Freeman’s fourth collection of poems. 

Glenn Freeman
Glenn Freeman

His new book, “Drinking with O’Hara,” recently won the Barry Spacks Award, which means Gunpowder Press in Santa Barbara will publish it this fall, tentatively in December. 

The judge for the prize was poet Stephen Dunn who said: “Throughout this fine book, the author openly acknowledges his literary influences while demonstrating he has a voice of his own. He is indebted to their spirit, to the permission their work gives him, as in his ‘O’Hara Late in the Day,’ which concludes with O’Hara saying, Go Ahead, Say Everything. This, Freeman proceeds to do throughout with great verbal energy and invention.”

Like the inspiration he gets from O’Hara, an American poet who grew in popularity for his work in the ’50s and ’60s, Freeman says one of the main threads of the book is this dialogue with other poets.  

“At times I even take other poets’ words and twist them into new poems of my own,” Freeman said. “For instance, I have a sonnet that is composed completely out of first lines of sonnets by Ted Berrigan. I twist his work into something new.”

The English Professor, who is also the faculty director for Cornell’s new M.F.A. in Creative Writing Low-Residency Program, was inspired by poems he was reading and started realizing many of his poems were connected. His biggest challenge was deciding which poems to include in the book and how to order them. 

“I spent months with the poems spread across tables and the floor, moving them around to see different ways of structuring the book.”

Although the book doesn’t tell a traditional story, he hopes readers see a narrative thread to the sequence. Freeman also says he simply wants readers to enjoy the poems and take pleasure in the way the language works.

“I hope readers walk away from the book in the way I think we walk away from all good poems: seeing things around us just a little differently, a little more awake to the quirkiness and wonder of the life around us.”   

Prior to this book, Freeman has published two collections of poems, “Keeping the Tigers Behind Us” (Elixir Press) and “Traveling Light” (Wordtech Communications), and a chapbook, “Fading Proofs” (Q Avenue Press). His work has been published in journals such as Poetry, The Cimarron Review, The Florida Review, and Zone 3. He has degrees from Goddard College, Vermont College, and the University of Florida and has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Iowa Arts Council.