by RikkiLynn Shields
If you’ve ever wondered where the Major Author Reading Series obtained its name, David Eye, former visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Manhattan College from 2010-2013, named the series when he began teaching here seven years ago.
Eye grew up in rural Virginia, and earned his MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University in 2008. However, this degree came after working 17 years as an actor and singer in New York City– being involved with national tours, regional theaters, and some television.
Before moving to New York in 1986, he spent four years serving in the military in Texas. As Eye says on his website, the experience places him “in an elite group of poet/professors who have served in both the United States Army—and the Broadway tour of Cats.”
Along with working as a visiting assistant professor here at Manhattan, he has also taught at Syracuse University in the English Department and writing program, St. John’s University, Staten Island campus, and Cazenovia College. Eye also serves as an associate editor at 32 Poems Magazine.
Eye is the recipient of a 2017 Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in Poetry, along with a 2014 Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Poetry from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He received a scholarship to the 2016 West Chester University Poetry Conference and is the winner of the 2014 Hudson Valley Writers Guild Non-Fiction Prize in the humor category. Eye was also a finalist in the 2015-2016 Tennessee Williams Poetry Contest, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa.
Eye’s chapbook, “Rain Leaping Up When a Cab Goes Past,” was published in 2013 in the Editor’s Series at Seven Kitchens Press, and his poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies.
Eye is the author of his most recent book, “Seed,” which was released in 2017 by The Word Works. The manuscript was chosen by award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral for the Hilary Tham Capital Collection. Eye read a variety of his poems, including a prose piece at the final MARS event of the semester this past Thursday, November 9, 2017.
“David Eye’s reading was both powerful and entertaining. He connected with the audience, in such a way that only elevated his words. His work made me think about poetry in a new and exciting way,” said Kiera Brady, sophomore childhood/special education major.
Eye read a variety of his poems, including “Unspoken at JFK,” “Photo: Fort Sam Houston, 1984,” “MTA to Downtown F,” “Across the Galaxy,” “Last Day, Lands End,” “MTA I: 3rd Ave Bus,” “Crossing,” and a few more.
“I used to think a poem was a story with line breaks. For me, however, a poem is a stoppage of time. Short stories have elongation, but a poem, for me, is an expansion of a moment,” Eye said. “Any good effort of writing is re-creating a good experience, picking up form, and knowing your intent.”
While the usual MARS takes place in Hayden 100, this reading took place in the Rodriguez Room in Miguel Hall, making the reading much more personal. Eye dedicated the reading to his grandmother, who passed away 20 years ago this week. Throughout his reading, Eye cracked jokes, sang a little, and interacted with the audience in an enthusiastic, humorous, yet serious way.
“I thought that this MARS reading was one of the best that I have been to so far. [Eye] was engaging, and both his poems and prose were very interesting to listen to. I’m glad I had the opportunity to hear him read his writing, and I would definitely like to read more of his poems,” said sophomore Taylor Aloisio, childhood/special education major.
After living in New York City for 20 years, Eye now lives at the edge of a forest in the Catskill Mountains. He is currently working on a collection of personal essays, along with something for the stage.
“Poetry is all about following your gut and revising, revising, revising,” Eye said.