“Why Poetry?”, Why Not Poetry?

And that’s a wrap! Last night we concluded our semester of Small Press Publishing with the book launch of  Joe O’ Conner’s “Why Poetry?”. It’s amazing to think that when we started this class back in August, I had no idea what even small press publishing was and now as a class we launched a book. This was an incredibly humbling experience, from reading Joe O’ Conner’s poetry, to talking about it with him as a class, making all the book covers at Mesh Works, organizing and sewing them, putting on the event and attending it. 

All our hard work paid off when we saw Joe O’Conner almost speechless as he took the time to read his poetry out loud. He commented how he had been to many poetry readings in his life and found that they always read the poems too fast, but tonight he was going to take his time to read his OWN poetry slow. It truly felt as a full circle moment, especially since he attended Saint Vincent College and started writing poetry here and now he finally had his work published. 

The event was well attended with students from our class, friends and family of O’Conner and members of the Saint Vincent College community. The night opened with an introduction of the book from Professor Gil-Montero. Then, Danny Whirlow, spoke eloquently about Joe O’ Conner, his background and his dreams of writing. Joe was moved by all the kind words and began his reading of his poetry. He read each of his poems and followed each with a brief story or explanation of why he wrote that piece.  Following his reading and a Q and A, he signed all copies of his book of poetry and sold many books. It was nice to visit with one another and see our hard work pay off. 

© Elspeth Mizner 2019

One of my favorite moments of the night was when I was talking to Joe and congratulating him on his book and although, we only met once he remembered exactly who I was from our first meeting and he thanked me for my work with the press. It is always nice to be thanked for doing work, but when it’s by the author, that’s even more meaningful. We all had a part to play with this book and everyone did a wonderful job to bring it all together. 

This has been an incredible journey, from attending excursions, to making the book, and learning all about small presses. I am so lucky to have played a small part in publishing Joe’s first book of poetry. Simply knowing that we helped make a man’s dreams come true is simply inspiring. I have loved every moment of this class and I am thankful for the friends I have made and the guidance and support from Professor Gil-Montero. This was a perfect way to end my time at Saint Vincent College. 

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