News: Brittain Fellow Nick Sturm Publishes Multiple Essays to Round Out 2019

Posted January 9, 2020

When most of us had wrapped up the Fall 2019 semester and were enjoying the December holidays, third-year Brittain Fellow Dr. Nick Sturm had something academic to celebrate: two new essays appear on the Poetry Foundation's website and in The Georgia Review.

In his second publication at the Poetry Foundation in 2019, Sturm's featured essay focused on poet Lorenzo Thomas on the occasion of the publication of The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas (Wesleyan University Press, 2019). Sturm writes of his subject, "Thomas’s Collected Poems records a lifelong commitment to the liberatory potential of Black nationalism. With the publication of this important new book, Thomas’s work can now be recognized as the irreducible record of what he called the 'tenacious traditions of black nationalism in the streets' that first inspired Umbra in the early 1960s. Nearly 15 years after his death, Thomas’s poetry has been brought back for a new audience." Sturm incorporated Thomas's work into his Fall 2019 ENGL 1102 Honors course. His students created a research project, "Curating the New York," that includes a page on the importance of Thomas's poetry as a Black poet associated with the New York School. Sturm is continuing to teach the work of Lorenzo Thomas in his Spring 2020 ENGL 1102 Honors course focused on women, artists of color, and queer artists in the New York School of art.

Sturm's essay-review of three new books of poetry appeared at The Georgia Review. The books addressed in this review—by Stacy Szymaszek, Simone White, and Edmund Berrigan—can be read together as a contemporary micro-lineage associated with the aesthetic and institutional legacies of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. Founded in 1966 on the Lower East Side in New York City and still thriving today, the Project has been the venue for generations of reading series, publications, and events central to the histories of innovative poetry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Szymaszek, White, and Berrigan’s lives and work have all been impacted by the Poetry Project, especially by the lineages of the New York School poets whose work is deeply associated with the Project. For these poets, “lineage” is not an abstract concept. As Szymaszek says in a 2018 interview with Cutbank, her affiliation with the Poetry Project made her “part of a lineage” of “active poets” who are “interested in the history of poetry, and what needs to be passed on.” As hallowed poetic ground rich with history that continues to host and support young poets, the Project is at the heart of this lineage-building. “I don’t really describe my own lineage in a particular way,” Szymaszek says, “though I will say I worship at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.” This devotion stretches throughout each of these three books.