Mary Ann Samyn continues Maurice Brown Poetry Readings


Sophie Hume

Mary Ann Samyn presents the Maurice Brown Readings to the audience on Oct. 14.

Brittany Kearfott, Sports Reporter

Mary Ann Samyn is a professor of English in MFA in the Creative Writing program at West Virginia University. She graduated from Oakland University in 1992. On Oct. 14, Samyn held a craft talk and reading for Oakland students and the community.

The craft consisted of Samyn talking about her work in creative writing as well as her studies. She took questions and worked closely with students on how to improve and expand their work in creative writing. She went through a reading of “The Frog in the Pond” as a foundation, and took pauses for note taking and writing prompts for the students. She also gave writing advice to the students, saying “Metaphors are for emergencies.”

Samyn spoke on how her presentation and talk is partially planned and not planned. 

“[Being] not all the way prepared is more realistic and useful,” she said. “[Plus, it] lets a little air in and is a lot more fun.”

She went to talk about how fully preparing doesn’t work and why.

“I have mentored a lot of people who are learning to teach grad students. I have noticed that when people try to prepare every single moment, it is usually a disaster.”

Her number one piece of advice is to “just be yourself, calm down and say some regular stuff to not everything that is on your plan.”

The Maurice Brown Poetry Readings were starting in memoriam of Maurice Brown — who was a professor at Oakland University. He is survived by his wife Judy Brown and daughter Tilda Brown Swanson. This was the 34th annual reading. 

Samyn thanked Judy Brown and Tilda Brown Swanson “for their continued support of this reading and writers and writing community in support of Maurice Brown.”

Samyn also values holding on to oneself, and mentioned she would take one of her own books to a deserted island, even if it was the only book she could bring.

“You have to think that way,” Samyn said. “The business side of writing is so difficult that you have to [have that] hold on yourself.”

Writing poetry is for a niche audience. When you write and sell it, you have to know who your audience is, but also how the business runs, and the competition. 

Samyn read a variety of poems from the books: “Dust, Shadow, Distance,” “My Life in Heaven” and “The Return From Calvary.

Samyn talked about her life with her father’s stroke and passing, and how it influenced her work and life in general. 

“Poems are not what you know about,” she said. “It is about what you don’t know about. Poems are sights of mystery. Typically something more or something less.”

Samyn spent time trying to understand why he was going through this struggle of the stroke, and everything he was going through in response to it. However, she knew that helped her learn to understand why 

“I learned who he was different from how I knew him,” she said. “He was receiving what he needed his whole life. He lacked getting cared for. He was always the caretaker. He was now getting cared for by many incompetent people including his own children and a lot of competent people.”

Samyn had a lot of amazing advice for the students looking for creative ways to write and work through the industry. It was wonderful to see the Maurice Brown readings continue for the first time since the start of COVID-19.