On October 3rd and 4th, 2023, renowned poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi visited Franklin and Marshall College as the 2023-2034 Richard and Edna Hausman Lecturer. In a break from tradition, this year’s program had Calvocoressi available on campus for a few additional days, and set aside time for several lucky students to meet one-on-one with them.
Festivities started with a reading from Rocket Fantastic, Calvocoressi’s newest book of poems. Intertwining prose that drew from the metaphorical meaning of foxes, mystical musings on gender, and the beauty of tofu, Calvocoressi casually knocked aside the conventions of a typical poetry reading by pausing mid-stanza to interject an anecdote or two. For those who have read Rocket Fantastic and are wondering whether or not the foxes are real, one of these asides confirmed that they were. Throughout their work on the book, Calvocoressi was visited by foxes. Were they omens from poets of old, foretelling this collection’s literary success? Or perhaps just ravenous little pests looking to root in the garbage? One can never know, though poets may be drawn to the latter explanation. It carries a sardonic beauty.
Meeting with Calvocoressi offered a chance to delve deeper into the life of someone pursuing a creative career path. For example, they revealed that they sometimes don’t write for years on end. While writing can be a freeing experience, the constant demand for one to just produce, produce, produce drains this art form of any personal joy. To grow artistically one must feed their soul. During these years, Calvocoressi reads, sometimes for several hours a day.
As well as foxes, Calvocoressi also draws on other animals throughout their writing, along with finding critters in the people from everyday life too. Squirrels, frequently seen steepling their fingers as they plot, are playful but often have a desire to hoard. Bunnies, or rabbits for any straight-laced biology majors reading this, are sweet but easily frightened and timid. For Calvocoressi themselves, they’re a greyhound. Kind to new people, as evidenced by their unwavering warmth throughout their visit to F&M; an understanding that to finish a race one must also race intermittently; and boundless energy to meet with dozens upon dozens of students one day then still be sociable at a bagel breakfast the next day.
After devouring it myself, I have a bit of advice for when one picks up Rocket Fantastic: Read it out loud. Find a patch of grass beneath some twisted maple tree, where the leaves have been dipped in orange, reds, and yellows. Inhale when greeted by the Bandleader, and exhale as you ground yourself in some truly extraordinary poetry.
Sophomore Teagan Durkin is the Arts & Leisure Copy Editor. Her email is email@example.com.