Contemporary poet brings poetry to life at UNO

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By Andrew Dinsmoor – Contributor

Contemporary poet Matthew Zapruder read in the Dodge Rooms of the Milo Bail Student Center on Nov. 3.  He visited UNO as a part of the Missouri Valley Reading Series, which welcomes poets as well as authors of fiction and non-fiction to travel and read their works.

Zapruder attended Amherst College as an undergraduate, and the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a graduate student.  He has published three full-length books of poetry, which have earned him the 2007 William Carlos Williams Award, the Tupelo Poetry Editors’ Prize and the 2008 May Sarton poetry award.  

At UNO, he read from his book published in 2010, “Come On All You Ghosts.” He also read a number of unpublished poems he had been working on. The reading was well-attended, with an audience consisting of UNO professors and students as well as poets and Omaha-area residents who had an interest in literature.

After being introduced by UNO professor Miles Waggener and a UNO creative writing student, Zapruder stood behind the podium in the Dodge Rooms and cracked a few jokes, making the audience feel comfortable. Throughout his reading, humor was a reoccuring theme and it kept the audience’s attention well.  

The reading itself was interactive and entertaining. The audience laughed, was earnestly attentive and tried their best to wring out the meaning of Zapruder’s poetry. The reading was over in only thirty minutes, but the question and answer session that followed was nearly another half an hour.

“I don’t like my poems to look down on people,” Zapruder said. “I want them to be a journey of learning that we can all be on together.”

He also said that it is not right for writing to look down on anyone, and that the community should not accept that pretentious behavior in people.

Zapruder was asked how he synthesizes his poetry into a book of poems. He replied that he starts off by simply writing a ton of poetry. When he reaches a certain point, he steps back and asks himself whether or not he has a book there. Often by asking this question, one-third of the poems he writes are eliminated. Zapruder stressed that is unacceptable for even one bad poem to be in his book of poems.  

If you missed Zapruder, there is still time to get your poetry fix. Continuing the Missouri Valley Reading Series, Wayne Miller will be reading his poetry in the Milo Bail Student Center on Nov. 17, free of charge.

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