Monday, April 09, 2012

Dr. Elizabeth Savage’s first full-length collection of poems, now available from Furniture Press Books, might be called "Grammar" and be inspired in large part by a 1946 grammar textbook, but don’t expect any lengthy lectures or tedious sentence diagramming here. Savage, a professor of English at Fairmont State University, is known for her sparse and tight poetry and this 50-poem collection is no exception.

Savage previously published a chapbook with Furniture Press titled "Jane & Paige or Sister Goose" before moving on to the set of poems that would culminate in this book.

“I tend to write in series, and when I am focused on a set of ideas or strategies like I was for J&P, I seem to write a lot more poetry and to explore more kinds of poetic styles.  I’d felt a bit lost when J&P was finished and on the way to publication, so I thought I’d experiment with writing about grammar terms and rules as expressed in the language of this charming little post-war high school primer,” said Savage.

She discovered "Drill for Skill," the textbook from which she pulled the titles of the poems, at her in-laws’ house during a summer visit. The poems themselves still reflect their origin in more than title—they are actually arranged in the order that the concepts appear in the textbook.

The poems for "Grammar" were all written within a 14-month period, after the Furniture Press editor, Christophe Casmassima, read a few of the poems and expressed an interest in publishing them—this time not as a chapbook, but as a full collection.

Not content to rest on her laurels, Savage is already at work on new projects. Some are poetic, as she has begun to write very compressed poems inspired by a line in Wallace Steven’s “Woman Looking at a Vase of Flowers,” while others are academic. She is currently compiling a collection of essays on contemporary female poets and modernist poetics for Ashgate Press with co-writer Debbie Mix, an Associate Professor of English at Ball State University, as well as finishing a book-length critical article on the poetry of Lorine Niedecker.

“I’m lucky to work and write with such skilled, generous readers and in a community that encourages creative and intellectual work. My chair, Dr. Robert Baker, and my colleagues in Language and Literature, especially Dr. Donna Long and Dr. Matthew Hokom, support my writing in dozens of ways, from reading and responding to drafts to helping me balance a workload so that I can write.  Most importantly, my colleagues convey in many less tangible ways that all the work we do, we do together, and that even when we feel isolated, we aren’t really. We meet our challenges collectively, and we pursue our accomplishments together,” said Savage.

For more information about "Grammar" or to read a sample, visit Furniture Press Books’ web site at http://furniturepressbooks.com/books/savagegrammar/.