The Daily Gamecock

Award-winning poet opens Fall Literary Festival

Maggie Dietz first in lineup of renowned writers

USC opened the annual Fall Literary Festival by welcoming renowned poet Maggie Dietz to campus Thursday evening for a poetry reading.

Dietz, a graduate of Boston University’s MFA program, read several poems from her published collection entitled “Perennial Fall”, which won the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry in 2007. The Green Bay native began her college career as a journalism major, but “made the call that all parents dread” and changed to creative writing.

“I still don’t consider myself a poet,” Dietz said. “I prefer being called a writer.”

The author centers her writings around personal experiences, many of which are based in nature and location. One poem pities the plight of Pluto’s “demotion” from planet to an ice ball, while another describes the beauty of the Texas countryside.

“Human nature reflected in nature is a bit of an obsession for me,” Dietz explained.

In addition to being an award winning writer, Dietz also serves as the director of the Favorite Poem Project, which works to expose poetry to the general public by encouraging people to send in their favorite poem and express their connection to that piece of work. A number of poems are chosen and published in a book.

“All of her poems seem to come from her life and what she witnesses,” Information Technology major, Jocelyn Elmore stated. “They are glimpses into her personal life and they allowed the audience here to connect to her. .”
Dietz recounted the story of a Cambodian participant who had fled to America from his homeland to escape genocide. Upon arriving in the U.S., he was exposed to “A Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, which reminded him very much of the struggle of leaving Cambodia, and he decided to submit it to the Favorite Poem Project. Dietz said his explanation for choosing Frost’s poem was the most profound she had ever received and caused her to take a new light on “America’s most famous poem”.

The moral of the story is to never underestimate the power of written works.

“I’m really glad that the university was able to do [the Fall Literary Festival] and get these writers here,” Daniel Rogers, first year MFA poetry student said. “It helps to strengthen the artistic community.”

Pulitzer-Prize winner Junot Díaz will be on campus November 8th and best-selling nature writer David Gesture will speak on the 17th.