The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Former professor’s poem published worldwide

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Guernsey has a poem being published in “American Life in Poetry.”

“American Life in Poetry” is a free weekly column distributed to newspapers and online publications featuring American contemporary poems.

The column reaches more than five million viewers each week.

Guernsey had taught for 36 years and was an English professor at Eastern for 25 years.

While at Eastern, Guernsey was awarded seven faculty excellence awards along with the University’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2001.

“The thing I miss the most about teaching is the learning,” Guernsey said. “I learned more while teaching than doing anything else.”

He has been writing poetry since 1967 during his first years teaching at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Guernsey said his initial inspiration came from the sadness he felt toward the horrors that came from the Vietnam War.

Over 200 of his poems have been published and he has written four books.

“For My Wife Cutting My Hair” is the fourth poem by Guernsey that “American Life in Poetry” has published in three years.

“The poem is about time, but it also marks time for me,” Guernsey said. “It’s a recognition of growing older while having a bit of humor to it and being able to grow older with a smile on your face.”

Many of Guernsey’s poems revolve around love and time but he said his poems are usually a tension between love and death.

“I don’t do themes so much as situations which I suppose themes evolve from,” Guernsey said.

Guernsey said writing is not necessarily an enjoyable thing and it’s like an itch that you can’t quite reach but you keep trying to get at and scratch.

“The things I write come from personal experience when I am trying to work out something about myself, my family and the world so it would be easier not to write but for some reason I do,” Guernsey said.

In 1992, Guernsey was named the Board of Governors Professor of the Year.

He was also editor of the Spoon River Poetry Review from 2006-2010 where he said he would read up to 3,000 potential poems per issue and narrow them down to about 30 or 40.

“I felt the most valuable aspect of the job was that it was a little bit like teaching again,” Guernsey said.

Currently Guernsey is working on his fifth book that will include 85 selective poems he has written between 1970-2010.

Rachel Rodgers can be reached at[email protected] or 581-2812.

Former professor’s poem published worldwide

Former professors poem published worldwide

Bruce Guernsey, Professor Emeritus, has published four books of his poems along with seven chapter books. His poems have been published in numerous publications including “Poetry,” “The Atlantic,” and “American Scholar.” (Submitted Photo)


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