Not Shakespeare, Not Whitman, but Jane Springer

Poet Jane Springer Reads at Second MARS Event

When Assistant Professor of English Dominika Wrozynski stood in front of an almost full room in Hayden 100 to introduce poet Jane Springer, she spoke of how she returns to Springer’s poetry again and again. Wrozynski, a friend of Springer’s, introduced the poet to an attentive room of Manhattan College students and faculty.

Springer, a poet from Louisiana, was invited to campus to participate in this semester’s Major Author Reading Series, more commonly known as MARS. Springer spoke with a warm southern accent and joked with the crowd throughout.

She began her reading by explaining her poetry. Springer was from a small town in the south and wrote instinctively about her life there. “You have to tell your own story,” Springer said, “because if you don’t, someone is going to tell it for you.”

Springer read many of her own poems, including “Salt Hill” and “What We Call Frog Hunting,” as well as poems she herself admired, surprising the audience with a poem by MC’s own Wrozynski called “The Things We Take This Night: Or What You Need To Escape From A Communist Country.”

Springer’s charm and life story captivated the audience throughout. She originally attended college for music, having played the piano and violin for more than 15 years, but she eventually found the craft and practice involved to be boring. “I am essentially lazy,” Springer joked.

Still, music would influence her poetic career. “The two places I find inspiration are blues and Appalachian music,” she said. Her poetry sang of the southern life, and what it was like growing up in her small town.

Springer talked about her life as a poet and what it takes to find success in the craft. “You don’t punch a time clock for poetry,” she said. “The ones that work, just work and they feel right.” Springer had poems that she finished in 15 minutes and poems that have taken years and still haven’t come together.

“What I think Jane brings is a fearlessness and a level of authenticity,” Wrozynski said. This fearlessness and authenticity is undoubtedly mirrored in Springer’s poetry.

Springer closed by fielding questions from the audience, explaining her life as a poet, and what it meant to her. She spoke of her life in the south and the differences she sees in her poetry as she has now moved north.

Overall, Springer insisted on her normalcy. “I’m just so normal, I’m thinking the same stuff you all are,” she said. While her poetry was exceptional, and she herself was an extraordinary character, she came off as nothing short of welcoming.

“She was very charismatic and had a conversational tone that made me not only want to listen to her poetry, but talk to her as well,” Jessica Risolo, a freshman English major, said.

Springer entertained and enthralled throughout the night, not only with her poetry, but her life story and her humor. She was as much a person as she was a poet. As she said, “I’m not trying to be Shakespeare, I’m not even trying to be Whitman. I’m just trying to wake up everyday and write another poem.”