Professor Freeman to release novel for National Poetry Month


Photo courtesy of Shadia Amen

Professor Cal Freeman will release his latest poetry book, “Poolside at the Dearborn Inn” on April 1, the start of National Poetry Month.

Coinciding with the start of National Poetry Month, poet and Oakland University professor John “Cal” Freeman is due to release his latest book, “Poolside at the Dearborn Inn” on April 1. 

This is not the professor’s first foray into the poetry world. He has had a lifelong passion for the art of poetry and initially found inspiration from his parents and other poetry greats such as Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. 

“I would say that those formative years with my parents definitely were a big thing in terms of steering me toward poetry,” Freeman says. “My dad was an English professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and my mom had this amazing kind of uncanny ability to remember poems and be able to recite them. The music of her reciting poems always stuck with me.” 

Influenced by childhood memories, Freeman tries to capture the musical element of poetry in each stage of the process — preferring to write longhand in a notebook when inspiration strikes. 

“Starting on the page with the pen is really important for me. It unlocks something in my imagination and it gets the music of the poem going,” Freeman says. “I think there’s something about writing on the page that sort of haptic thing that happens [where] you can actually feel the music of the page when the pen is going over the page. It creates this cadence in a way that looking at the monitor screen for me doesn’t do.”

Freeman also draws inspiration from the mundane, frequently finding deeper meaning from the world around him.

“A lot of times something I’m reading will inspire me to start writing,” Freeman says. “If I’m taking a walk can I see an image could be something as simple as a tree or someone shoveling their snow.” 

The Michigan region is also a source for Freeman’s writing, and he frequently is influenced by the local environment and history of Dearborn where he lives.

“I find it fascinating that I can go to the end of my street and look at the Ecorse River and think about the way that eventually makes its way into Lake Erie and eventually that makes its way into the St. Lawrence seaway,” Freeman says. “We’re connected to so much water in this region. I find environmental issues and ecological issues surrounding the Great Lakes basin often trigger my writing.”

Freeman’s interests have culminated into his latest work and he believes the title poem of his new book is the best representation of his “obsessions” as a writer. 

He says: “It’s got some ecological stuff, it’s got labor history attached to a real place-based writing, so I would say the title poem ‘Poolside at the Dearborn Inn’ would give you a good sense of who I am as a poet.” 

Freeman is also taking part in various reading events for those interested in hearing more of his works. He will be appearing at the Henry Ford Centennial Library on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and at the OU Writing Center on March 10 from 11 a.m. to noon. 

To pre-order “Poolside at the Dearborn Inn,” go to