The River’s End Bookstore of Oswego hosted the release of Laura Donnelly’s “Watershed” on Friday, Sept. 5. Donnelly is a professor in the Oswego State creative writing department and this collection of poems is her first published book.
A crowd gathered to listen to her read a selection of poems from the book. Seating in the book shop was full, but many more Oswego State professors, students and other poetry enthusiasts stood around the store entrance and between the bookshelves. The reading gave way to a reception, complete with cheeses, wines and a whole lot of book signing.
Reflecting on the time span that resulted in “Watershed,” Donnelly said that the book represented “four different states, six different jobs, one cat and a marriage.” The earliest poem in the book was written ten years ago.
The book itself started as a doctoral dissertation for Donnelly and was first submitted for publication in 2011 as “The Principle of Flickering.” After a major revision in 2013, it finally became “Watershed,” and was accepted for publication.
“When the publishers called, I felt, and still feel, incredibly grateful that there are editors out there who got the poems, who believed in the work,” Donnelly said.
The original title of the book is still a part of the poem collection, as “Knife Grinder: Principle of Flickering,” a poem about interpreting the world as a “flickering” place. It opens:
“It’s as simple as saying we move, we are/ constantly moving, and/ someone wanted to show that/ the oddest way, a painting’s taut canvas.”
It’s still a good way to explain “Watershed.” Donnelly captures a number of images, arts and places from her personal experiences, but only as taut canvases, stills from a moving, evolving life.
Donnelly was glad to be able to read her poetic works for such a great audience of friends, colleagues, and admirers.
“I love the sounds and rhythms of words, and I read my work aloud while I’m writing. Reading in public feels like the natural extension of that. Of course, I also get nervous, but it’s a good nervous,” she said.
With one book of poetry down, Donnelly is using her cleared-up creative calendar to plan out another collection of poems about mythological gardens and the rural Midwest. She’s attempting to keep the specific and details about the new collection loose.
“I’m not exactly sure where it will end up, and that’s fun.”