BU poets jump start National Poetry Month

For immediate release: March 20, 2012

BLOOMSBURG — Melanie Simms and Jerry Wemple, a student and professor from Bloomsburg University, will offer a poetry reading on Monday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Degenstein Community Library in Sunbury.

Following the poets’ reading, an open mic session will be held for others to share local poetry. There is no cost for the event and all are welcome to attend.

Simms, a senior creative writing major at BU, acknowledges her childhood and family life have fueled her interest in the area. With a Civil War historian for a brother and several journalists and writers among her relatives, it seems natural Simms would use language to honor the place she calls home. Coming from a military family, however, meant moving around a lot as a child.

“Community meant more because I had to seek it out,” Simms explained.

In addition to the physical environment, she tries to show her readers the entire community. Simms finds the way people interact fascinating and wants to discover what brings them together as a group. This interest became an important bridge during a class at BU.

Wemple, professor of English and fellow native Pennsylvanian, also uses his poetry to pay homage to local communities. When Simms was asked to read her poem “Sunbury,” she suggested Wemple share his works about the surrounding communities they adore.

Simms is the former Poet Laureate of Perry County, and her work has appeared in more than 150 publications, including literary journals, magazines and newspapers. Her poems have won several awards, including a Vermont Studio Writers Scholarship and the Sophie Award for Poetic Excellence.

Jerry Wemple

Wemple has penned two poetry collections, “You Can See It from Here” and “The Civil War in Baltimore,” and co-edited the anthology “Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania.” In addition to teaching at BU, he edits “Watershed: Journal of the Susquehanna.”

He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, the Word Journal Chapbook Prize, a fellowship in the arts from the Pennsylvania Council on Arts and Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry and creative non-fiction.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver will also take part in the event, talking about the importance of poetry and the arts. Sunbury Mayor David Persing will proclaim National Poetry Month.

Degenstein Community Library is located at 40 S. Fifth St., Sunbury.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. BU serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.