It’s been hectic on the Mary Washington campus these last few days, and in all the hustle and bustle of classes starting up a pretty honor for one of our faculty was announced. Professor Claudia Emerson was named the poet laureate of Virginia by Governor Kaine on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008.
I couldn’t be more excited for both Claudia and the University of Mary Washington. She is an awesome teacher, brilliant poet, and a downright cool person. Her tireless work ethic captures what I find so inspiring about UMW’s faculty in general, despite a tremendous load of work she refused to stop innovating and imagining beyond the pale.
And should you ever be lucky enough to find yourself near Claudia’s gravitational pull, she’ll most certainly reel you in and start talking about words, figures, and etymologies. She’ll throw out wild ideas and make you re-think your assumptions with an offhanded comment that opens up the complex problems and possibilities of our shared language. I often come away from a conversation re-thinking the encrusted words I have enshrined and come to lean too much upon for meaning.
What’s more, to hear her talk about her hometown Chatham, Virginia is really like something out of a Faulkner novel. She represents what I had always imagined was unique about an artist, a relentless openness married to an unforgiving return to what matters most. And to be honored the poet laureate of her home state must be an amazing honor for her, and I would just like to add to that the following: Rock on, Claudia!