Muskingum News


Dr. Varley Brings Poet Laureates to Class
John, Jane, and Dianne

Students in Muskingum University Professor of English Dr. Jane Varley’s classroom recently had the opportunity to engage with two poet laureates.

“I especially like to teach works by living writers,” Dr. Varley commented. “Having them come to the classroom deepens the reading experience and brings poetry and story-telling alive for our students.”

Kari Gunter-Seymour, Ohio Poet Laureate since 2020, made a virtual visit to Dr. Varley’s “Advanced Creative Writing Course.” A ninth-generation Appalachian, Ms. Gunter-Seymour’s work focuses on the culture of the region, particularly Appalachian female culture. During the visit, she read from her poetry, led a discussion comparing urban Ohio and the Appalachian region, and provided her comments on student work.

John Burroughs, the U.S. National Beat Poet Laureate 2022-2023, and northeastern Ohio poet and publisher Dianne Borsenik visited Dr. Varley’s “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry” class in person, reading from their works and brainstorming with the students about cover image ideas for Ms. Borsenik’s new book “Flight of Honey.” 

The poets held a reading later that day for the campus community, where they connected with Muskingum Vice President for Enrollment Marcy Ritzert, who keeps honeybee hives. Ms. Borsenik ultimately selected one of Ms. Ritzert’s hive photographs to appear on the book cover.

Dr. Varley serves as the Division Chair for the Arts & Humanities and has been a member of the Muskingum faculty since 2000. Her central teaching specialty is creative writing, and she also has a particular passion for nature writing and sports literature. She writes non-fiction and poetry, which is often connected to her experiences of travel and the outdoors.

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