Born in North Carolina by the Appalachian Mountains, Erin Fornoff now finds home in Ireland. As an author and avid poet who received an M. Phil in Creative Writing with Distinction from Trinity College Dublin, she’s performed at events across Ireland, the UK, and the US, and even co-founded Lingo, the first spoken word festival to appear in Ireland and for which she was Program Director. In the spirit of National Poetry Month, we interviewed Fornoff about her debut collection of poems, Hymn to the Reckless, and more.
1. What was the inspiration behind your collection of poems, Hymn to the Reckless?
The collection doesn’t really have one central theme, though it touches heavily on the path a life takes from a forest-filled childhood to a country across the ocean, and the reckoning of those shifts. It looks at ways we take risks and why and what happens when we do. It’s me trying to make sense.
2. You were born by the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, and now reside in Ireland. How would you say this sense of home you find in multiple countries influences your writing?
It’s a hugely strong influence. I write about home constantly, and grapple with those choices—do I stay or go? Where is home and what does it mean and can it come to mean something different? A poet once told me that new poets write about their childhood until they exhaust it and then they move on to other topics. Perhaps I haven’t exhausted it yet. Identity is an inescapable theme in poetry and I find myself becoming more Irish and differently American, and yet never fully Irish and missing America, and poetry is probably my central vehicle for figuring my own muddled head out.
3. Is there any one thing you hope readers take away with them after reading your poetry, specifically Hymn to the Reckless?
Take a risk now and then. Find home wherever it springs up. And don’t be scared of going to spoken word shows.
4. What was the most rewarding aspect of creating this collection? The most difficult?
I was really touched by the process of having a publisher and editor. I had never had someone take such interest and care in my work, and be invested in making it as good as it could be. I found it really moving to be taken care of that way. I went to a writers retreat in a stone cabin on a cliff in County Kerry and sat, in a storm, with every poem I had written printed out or scrawled, and it was so cool to see them altogether, and turning into something (hopefully) greater than their parts.
5. Tell me about the poets who have influenced your writing.
I love Mary Oliver for her use of nature and the way she manages to pull off that rare trick of saying exactly what she means (sometimes) and it not coming across as heavy-handed or twee. I try and fail at this – I’m forever getting edited with people saying ‘You don’t have to draw a neon sign blinking HERE IS MY POETIC POINT.’ Others I love are Philip Levine, Danez Smith, Colm Keegan and Kate Tempest. Kate is a rapper, spoken word poet, playwright, and novelist, and her honesty and fierceness just bowl me over, every time.
6. Do you ever do spoken word? If so, what is it like to read your work aloud?
I started with spoken word and still feel most comfortable and energized by that space. I do around 60-80 gigs a year and it’s such a privilege. I love that communion between performer and audience. As a writer I get to explore the poems in a new way (and improve them over time) and I think they are experienced in a much different way by the audience. I love spoken word – and there is a great culture for it in Ireland. It’s the only place in the world I’ve been where a random person can stand up in a bar and start reciting a poem and the entire bar falls silent.
7. You’ve also written a novel. How was this different than writing poetry? Any advice for writers who find it difficult to switch between forms?
Ooooh it is so much harder. So much harder! You can dip in and out of poems and thus they kind of suit a small attention span, but a novel is a slog. You feel a bit like a crazy person, living in an imaginary world in your own mind. I would love advice for writers who find it difficult to switch between forms, because I am finding it difficult to switch between forms!
8. Where is your favorite spot to write?
I have a little desk in an art studio with a window and a blank white wall. Other people share the room, so there’s hubbub but not too much, and the desk is clear and ready.
9. What was one of the first poems or books you read as a child that you fell in love with?
I loved Shel Silverstein and used to be able to recite ‘The Perfect High’ from memory. All little kids books are essentially poems – so I guess I could say ‘The Runaway Bunny’? My favorite longer books were The Phantom Tollbooth and The Secret Garden, which I read until they fell apart.
10. What’s on your nightstand now?
Right now I’m reading Poet X by Elizabeth Agevedo, a cool melding of spoken word poetry and novel, as well as ‘Land of Lost Borders’ by my friend Kate Harris, about biking across the Silk Road. For poetry it’s ‘Flights Over Finglas’ by Rachel Hegarty.
If you don’t know who Ruth Colvin is, we’re here to tell you why you should.
Now 101 years old, Colvin will be the commencement speaker for Le Moyne’s graduation ceremony this spring. As a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a member of National Women’s Hall of Fame, she’s also an icon to commemorate during Women’s History Month.
But let’s back track a bit… In 1962, Ruth Colvin founded Literacy Volunteers of America, now known as ProLiteracy Worldwide, an organization based in Syracuse, New York and dedicated to increasing literacy rates in adults. Having lived in Syracuse for some time, and as a graduate of Syracuse University, Colvin’s mission began within the snow-covered city. Just a few decades later, however, she has educated adults across the globe, and her organization has made its mark in about 30 countries.
In Off the Beaten Path, Colvin recounts stories of the people she’s met around the world. Traveling with her husband, she’s seen 62 countries. Dedicated to the power of lifelong learning, she’s also provided literacy training in 26 developing nations. Within her rich career, Colvin found the most rewarding aspect to be the connections she made with people from vastly different backgrounds, the values she learned from their cultures, and the similarities she discovered amongst all people.
A memoir of the people and places who impacted her during her travels, ranging from Madagascar to Cambodia, Colvin’s book is sure to open your eyes to the customs and values of the many societies and individuals who share our globe.
Alpine skiing, curling, figure skating – the Winter Olympics are full of snow-themed fun, but only for about two weeks. What are you supposed to do for the rest of winter? If you can’t get enough of the Olympics, we’ve got you covered. Check out our Olympic-themed books below:
In Tarnished Rings, Stephen Wenn, Robert Barney, and Scott Martyn tell the story of the Salt Lake City slush fund scandal of 1998-99. Following suspicion that these funds were used to obtain votes in the city’s bidding process, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) spent weeks under scrutiny. Delving into the IOC and the Olympic Movement, while also exploring the broader notions of leadership and crisis management, Tarnished Rings is sure to keep you entertained on a snowy day.
Diving a bit deeper into the world of business, Sports Business Unplugged features a collection of Rick Burton and Norm O’Reilly’s recent columns from the SportsBuiness Journal. Tackling current and complex subjects such as gender equity, diversity, and collegiate athletics, Burton and O’Reilly discuss the future of sports as well as their importance in maintaining a healthy and prosperous society.
Having been the Chief marketing Officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Syracuse University professor Rick Burton recently shared his perspective on what it was like to be a part of the Olympic Committee with the local news.
To get you excited about warm weather and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, our forthcoming book, When Running Made History, shares the firsthand accounts of world-class runner, Roger Robinson, on the ways in which running has been interwoven with, and shaped by, recent history. Robinson recalls the victory of Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian athlete in the Rome Olympics of 1960. He shares his unique perspective on the intimate intersection of history and running.
Whether you need more of the Olympics or simply want a day inside by the fire, these books are sure to offer you new perspectives on the long-running world-wide event.
Congratulations to author Susan Gordon, her latest book Because of Eva: A Jewish Genealogical Journey has won the American Society of Journalists and Authors 2017 Book Award in the Memoir/Autobiography category. Judges said, “the author nicely interwove history with her family story and her personal quest. We liked how the story flowed and how tightly it is written, and, as one judge noted, ‘It is a beautiful addition to Jewish/WWII work.’”
Whether you’re shopping for a nature lover or a sports fan, we’ve got you covered with this book list for readers of every interest.
All of these books are part of our Holiday Sale. Enjoy 50% off selected New York State and regional books until December 31, 2016. Click here for more details.
Slices of Orange: A Collection of Memorable Games and Performers in Syracuse University Sports History by Sal Maiorana and Scott Pitoniak
Chronicling of the rich tradition of Syracuse University sports, this book recaptures heroics of running back Jim Brown’s 43-point performance against Colgate at old Archbold Stadium, the pain of Keith Smart’s jumper that denied Syracuse a national title in 1987, and the joy of forward Carmelo Anthony’s levitation act in the 2003 NCAA basketball championship game.
Fanny Seward: A Life by Trudy Krisher
On April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s conspirator Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward in his home just blocks from Ford’s Theatre. Seward’s beloved daughter, Fanny, recounts the night in poignant detail. Her diary entries from 1858 to 1866 offers her intimate observations on the people and events during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
In this memoir, Lockwood draws upon his forty years in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor, offering a unique glimpse into the world of newspaper cartoon strips. He details the production and promotion of countless comic strips, while also providing his own assessments of the most iconic cartoonists.
Walking Seasonal Roads by Mary A. Hood
Having traveled nearly every seasonal road in Steuben County, New York, Hood finds they provide the ideal vantage to contemplate the meaning of place, offering intimate contact with plant and wildlife and the beauty of a rural landscape. Each road reveals how our land is used, how our land is protected, and how environmental factors have impacted the land. As a literary naturalist, Hood reflects on endangered and invasive species, as well as on issues of conservation and sustainability.
The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux
Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. The Tumble Inn is a moving drama about home and about the fragility and resilience of love.
The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park by Michael Pearson
Representing a remarkable achievement in environmental scholarship and drawn from decades of research, The Great Experiment in Conservation captures the wisdom born of the last thirty years of the park’s evolution. The editors bring together leading scholars, activists, and practitioners—those who know the Park’s origin and the realities of living in a protected area—to narrate this history.
Our Movie Houses: A History of Film and Cinematic Innovation in Central New York by Norman O. Keim, with David Marc
Despite the tremendous contribution of both New York City and Hollywood to the evolution of American cinema, Syracuse and Central New York also played a strategic—yet little-known—role in early screen history. This book provides a highly readable and richly detailed account of the origins of American film in CNY, the colorful history of neighborhood theaters in Syracuse, and the famous film personalities who got their start in the unlikely snow belt of New York state.
Wild Exuberance: Harold Weston’s Adirondack Art by Rebecca Foster and Caroline M. Welsh
Early in his career, critics and collectors widely recognized that Harold Weston (1894-1972), was capturing and saying something unusual in his paintings. Along with 104 color and ten black-and-white plates of Weston’s works, the catalog includes essays that cover myriad aspects of Weston’s life and art.