Professor Jonas Zdanys’ “St. Brigid’s Well”

Professor Zdanys speaking at his book launch. Photo by Brendan Capuano/Spectrum.

Professor Zdanys speaking at his book launch. Photo by Brendan Capuano/Spectrum.

By Cindy Sanawong 

Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, Feb. 1 Sacred Heart University hosted a book launch and reception in the Arts & Design Gallery for english professor and Poet in Residence Jonas Zdanys’ latest poetry book, “St. Brigid’s Well.”

Professor Zdanys has been writing poetry for most of his life.

“I began writing poetry when I was 13 and had my first poem published in a national journal when I was 16. My first book of poetry, titled ‘Voice on an Anthill,’ was published in 1981. It was a collection of poems I had written mostly when I was in my late teens and early twenties, including some poems I had written when I was in college,” said Zdanys. “I have been publishing volumes of poetry ever since.”

Zdanys introduced his book to students and faculty members and said how the book came about and why he wrote it.

The inspiration started when Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Robin Cautin and Professor Gerald Reid offered Zdanys to teach a creative writing course for Sacred Heart’s study abroad program in Dingle, Ireland.

“In that seminar, we considered the three different ways a sense of place might help shape a poem. I decided that if I was asking my students to write such poetry, then I should too,” said Zdanys. “So teaching that class in Dingle resulted in this book.”

The book is a combination of mystical legends and folktales of the tradition of Brigid’s Cross. The Brigid Cross is a symbol of protection from all things evil.

“I was intrigued that he views Ireland not through the European mythology, but how he has a worldview of Ireland, which I could tell in the greater depths of his poetry,” said sophomore Tyler Lascola.

Zdanys also said that geography plays a significant role in his poetic writing process and in the creation of mythical characters like the Irish Goddess of Dawn.

“The book focuses on the West Coast of Ireland, particularly the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, and the literal as well as metaphorical pilgrimages eastward to St. Brigid’s Well in Kildare. Pilgrimages are about leaving one place and getting to another, usually for a purpose and often for spiritual reasons. The movement across physical boundaries of both kinds of places parallels interior movements, an evolution of the self during the search for meaning, secular enlightenment, or moral significance.  So the book is a consideration of such journey,” said Zdanys. “In it, I have tried to maintain a focus on a place, as it moves through time, and have relied on the figure of Brigid to serve as a touchstone in that exploration.”

Students highly praised Zdanys’ poems and book, and were able to get an idea of how Dingle is without even being there.

“I loved the poem and kind of get the idea of what the Dingle Coast is like,” said junior Dayne Kepler.

Other students plan on getting their own copy of “St. Brigid’s Well.”

“I like the idea of the Ireland Coast. I’m really excited to get the book and read it,” said freshman Ashley Penczynzyn.

Zdanys wants his readers to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

“The world is a wonderful place and we should experience its beauties, not just through poems that write about the world, but with all of our own senses. We should be aware of everything around us and not simply walk past the particulars of our day-to-day lives caught up in the images on our smart phones,” said Zdanys. “We share human experience because we live in a shared world, and we should do everything we can, each day, to understand the world in which we live and all of those others, all around us, who are equally part of it.”

Poet’s Corner: “A Reach”

By Emma Lyn Schwartz

Sometimes it takes work to reach something beautiful

And sometimes you can’t do it

Sometimes just looking at the chains that hold you make you- force you to give up

But you don’t know what you need is right there

And I know it’s hard to understand when you can’t see it

But if you reached just a little bit more…

It’s right there I promise

Poet’s Corner

“the $7 couch”

By: Nina Miglio

at the thrift shop

where hand-me-downs have a back story

you wear someones past

and you must give it a future

worn out

the scent of an old closet

the couch was one

worn out like lipstick after a long day

like a good pair of classic sneakers that are beautifully ragged

the olive tone of the fabric was chilling

the past two houses I’ve lived in were that color

maybe it was my turn to give it a future

only seven dollars?

there was no way to deny it

not too shabby I thought

it was destiny in a way

a sign

maturity?

Poet’s Corner

“Mannequin”

By Robert McMullin

I stand all day

A shield between me

And them

They stare all day

I stand frozen

My life is not my own

The wardrobe predestined

The price already marked

My arms and legs and head and feet can move

They freeze me

I stand naked

With cloth and lace and strings and beads

I am a statue of fashion

A beacon of light

They look at me and see the new fad

I don’t know what they see

They stand clothed

The life that I have

Is not mine

My face is hidden by a mask

The plastic smile I am forced to wear

But they have their lives

My eyes are open, but I cannot see

I just want to close them

I’m so tired

Judging, stripping, staring, standing

They go home

But I’m still here

They look at me

But the mannequin looks back

They see the new look

But never the real me

Poet’s Corner: “Innisfail”

By Shannon Andée Brindle

The land of my elders

The home of my heritage

In the Emerald Isle’s splendors,

I search for a vestige,

Of what rests in my future –

Yet, I discover no tablature

Perched upon the Cliffs of Moher

Scaling the Giant steps of the Causeway

Whilst the ocean ebbs from shore

I merrily jig at the Tigh Coili in Galway

Even in the ruins of Dunluce

My constellation remains obtuse

I visit my ancestral Longford

Blindly hurling my javelin,

My aim skewed in cruising the Killary Ford

What I seek may lie in Dublin

God’s decree for me may still possess a veil

Yet, I shall always find my path back to Innisfail

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