New university press book showcases poems written by students

Saturday, April 29, 2006
"Balancing on a Bootheel"

The latest book by the Southeast Missouri State University Press gives nine young poets with university ties a way to showcase their work.

"Balancing on a Bootheel" will be available at Barnes and Noble and the university bookstore starting this week. Poets included in the compilation are Jon Thrower, Jarret Green, Michael G. Howell, Nicole Stanfield, Doc Bertram, Nicole Trickey, Ben Marxer, Shawn McLain and Clay Matthews.

All of the writers are current or former students at Southeast, and all of them are current or former members of the local poetry group Prescription Strength Poetry.

Press director Dr. Susan Swartwout edited the book with Thrower, currently an adjunct English professor at the university.

Swartwout said the book has been a long time coming.

"Jon Thrower and I had talked about this project a long time ago, and decided we could do this when the press ... could afford to do so," said Swartwout.

Swartwout said "Balancing on a Bootheel" gives these young poets a publishing credit that is getting harder to come by in the modern publishing world.

"It's really very difficult to get published because there's just a glut of poetry out there," she said.

Marxer said it's a great honor to have his work published in the compilation. A current Southeast graduate student, he's been writing poetry for about five years, "except for crappy love poems in high school," he said.

Marxer said the book allows him to get people off his back wanting to see his work in print.

This is the third poetry book the press has published, but the first compilation from many poets, Swartwout said. "Balancing on a Bootheel" doesn't try to be avant garde, but seeks to convey the emotion of the authors to the audience in a variety of moods and styles, she said.

Each poet has a distinct voice, she said.

"They don't play coy with the audience," said Swartwout. "This isn't chic poetry -- it's very meaningful. The images are brilliant.

"This is very much the voice of people who live in a small town that they love, but they know there's a big world out there and they want to see it."

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