Professor writes poems in ‘Blood’

Normally, a bulk of his poetry is written outside. But after 9/11, he couldn’t keep certain thoughts from entering his head.

“It’s odd to be a sort of landscape or nature poet and all of a sudden have the world intrude upon the imagination,” Ed Haworth Hoeppner, an English professor at Oakland University, said.

Haworth Hoeppner’s newest collection of poems, “Blood Prism,” is the winner of the 2010 Ohio State University Press Award in Poetry and centers on three themes, including politics, which Haworth Hoeppner said he’d never explored before poetically. The award comes with the publication of his manuscript by The Ohio State University Press and a $3,000 prize.

“It’s really a way of … trying to bring that sort of news into the world, into the daily life of the person who’s walking around 1,000 miles from that kind of stuff, and see how it enters into the imagination and changes reality a little bit,” Haworth Hoeppner said.

Memory and age make up the other two sections of the book, with the former section featuring poems about the death of Haworth Hoeppner’s parents. The three themes are connected through the concept of “blood” — the blood of family, the often-violent nature of politics, and age resembling the coming of the end of one story in a bloodline.

“I’ve always been surprised previously to see what my dominant mood was for this period of time. One time, I did a book and I thought, ‘Wow, a lot of these poems are about being a father for the first time,'” Haworth Hoeppner said.

Haworth Hoeppner, who’s taught at OU since 1988, has published about 300 poems since the 1970s. “Blood Prism” contains about 65 poems that were written over the last several years. In addition to exploring new topics, he said he also experimented with various technical forms, such as prose, internal rhyme and staggered lines.

With such a small audience for poetry, Susan Hawkins, chair and associate professor of English, said it’s a rare feat for poets to have their work published.

“What the general public doesn’t understand is just how difficult it is to get poetry published in America,” Hawkins said. “Almost all of it is done by really small presses and/or academic presses like Ohio State. And even there this is a contest, so over 700 submissions, all these people are sending in manuscripts, and Ed’s manuscript gets it out of 700.”

Haworth Hoeppner said books of poetry usually sell between 1,000-5,000 copies, and that often poets will be paid in copies in lieu of money, which he has no objection to.

“It’s not a money game at all for 99.9 percent of poets; it’s something else,” Haworth Hoeppner said.

“Blood Prism” will be published later this year, and will be available through The Ohio State University Press and at major booksellers.