So far, in the first month of writer-in-residence Eric Kocher‘s time in Spartanburg, you’ve learned about his TV habits and possible affection for hilarious violence in his first blog post, The Most Important TV Show You are Not Watching. Hopefully you know that, at only 25, Eric is already an accomplished poet, with numerous publications.
So now it’s time to learn more about Eric as poet, the reason we invited him to join us at HUB-BUB and the Hub City Writers Project. Just yesterday, Eric taught a poetry workshop at Hub City’s 11th annual Writing in Place conference, and I can’t count the number on my fingers of how many people said, “Wow, he’s good. He knows his stuff.”
We certainly think so too. So I went back and asked Eric’s thesis adviser at the University of Houston, where he just completed his MFA in poetry in May, what we have to look forward to at Eric’s debut Spartanburg reading on Thursday at 8pm during the AiR Entry Show. And his thesis adviser was none other than Kevin Prufer, author of five books of poetry, editor of four anthologies, winner of two Pushcart Prizes, and numerous awards and fellowships.
Here’s what Kevin had to say about Eric and his poetry:
Eric Kocher was in the first graduate workshop I ever taught, here at the University of Houston. I didn’t know quite what to make of him early on – a thoughtful, bearded man with an encyclopedic knowledge of American poetry. He seemed cheerful enough and spoke in careful, intelligent paragraphs about the work of his peers, or of poets he admired—Gertrude Stein, Timothy Donnelly, Matthew Zapruder, among many others. He was obviously a very fine thinker, one at home in the intricacies and uncertainties of language. What astonished me, though, was the playful brilliance of his own poems. Eric Kocher, it seems to me, lives with great delight in a world of constantly shifting perspectives, a world in which we can never know anything for sure. Though his poems are often colored with a sense of loss—of loved ones, of our sense of ourselves, of any certainty for our futures—they are also quick-witted, energetic, and muscular. Eric has said that he, like the poet Lyn Hejinian, wants to reintroduce his readers to language, “to make them feel as if in the presence of it for the first time.” That he accomplishes this, so often balancing sadness with whimsy, loss with spectacle, is a testimony both to his talent and to the deeply human concerns in his work. The poem “Florencia Remembers the Elephants” is a perfect example. Eric has said that he wrote the poem for a friend, Florencia, who had recently lost someone close to her. Here, that loss becomes transfigured and, in ways that are both surprising and deeply moving, takes over the poem (and her office): “Florencia Remembers the Elephants” online here
(Sorry, the format of the poem doesn’t translate into blog format!)
Read more of Eric’s poetry online ahead of his reading on Thursday:
Oh, and here’s a great blog post he wrote about the actor James Franco entering his graduate program at the University of Houston: “An Open Letter to James Franco.”
On behalf of HUB-BUB and the Hub City Writers Project (and as a writer and admirer myself), come hear Eric read! It’ll be well worth your time. Plus, you’ll get to see the artwork of ALL of the artists-in-residence!
Check back throughout the week for previews of all of the artists’ work!