Poets to present in the Big Dog Reading Series

BLOOMSBURG—Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania will host poets Brian Fanelli and Daryl Sznyter as part of the Big Dog Reading Series on Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Monty’s Assembly Room on the upper campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Fanelli, assistant professor of English at Lackawanna College, is the author of two full-length poetry collections: “All That Remains” and “Waiting for the Dead to Speak.” His poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in several publications, including The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, LABOR, Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Paterson Literary Review, and Main Street Rag, among others.

Fanelli will read poems from his collection “Waiting for the Dead to Speak,” and his manuscript “The Horror, The Horror.”

“Many of the poems in ‘Waiting for the Dead to Speak’ draw on personal memory, my relationship with my family, especially my deceased father, and politics, at least somewhat,” said Fanelli. “‘The Horror, The Horror’ is about his relationship to the horror genre, which he loves, the relationship with his father, who got him into horror, and the real world concerns he has about the threat of climate change and our current political environment,” Fanelli said.

Sznyter, an SEO analyst and content writer in Northeastern Pennsylvania, has published a collection called, “Synonyms for (OTHER) Bodies.” Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Forward Prize, and has been published in Harpur Palate, Poet Lore, Folio, Gravel, The American Journal of Poetry, and Best American Poetry Blog.

Sznyter will read a mix of newer poems and poems from her collection, “Synonyms for (OTHER) Bodies.” A common theme in Sznyter’s work is identity. “Of course, my own identity figures prominently into my work, but I’m also interested in the way others identify themselves and how we identify others. Identity can mean how we look, who or what we are drawn to, how an experience has shaped us, or something else altogether,” she said. “The coolest thing about our identities is that we can change them, so I’ll never run out of things to write about.”

The Big Dog Reading Series began in 2000, bringing nationally-recognized and regional poets and writers to present public readings and interact with students through class visits and workshops. The Series was started by Professor Jerry Wemple and Claire Lawrence to contribute to the University’s budding creative writing program.

“We try to mix it up, bringing in people who represent a variety of genres and writing styles, and people who are known on a national level and those who may be more regional,” said Wemple. The series began with Pennsylvania poet Julia Kasdorf. Since then, it has featured a variety of poets and writers including Natasha Trethewey, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former U.S. Poet Laureate, short story writer Phil Klay, who won the National Book Award, and award-winning graphic novelist Alison Bechdel. 

The poets this month are both from Pennsylvania and write about places that many students are familiar with. “It is important for students, especially aspiring writers, but also future teachers, to understand that people create literature about every place, including places just like where they come from,” said Wemple.

Fanelli hopes that students “realize they can write poems about anything, be it their favorite movie, pop culture, the state of the world, or their relationship with loved ones.” Sznyter advises, “There is strength and community in storytelling. If you have a story, don’t be afraid to share it. Who knows? Your story might change someone else’s life.”

For more information, contact the English department at 570-389-4427.