University alumna returns for poetry reading

Peter Shaver

Staff Writer

Aquinas Photo/Peter Shaver
University alumna and poet Brianna Noll returned to The University for a reading from her first collection, “The Price of Scarlet,” April 26.

University alum and poet Brianna Noll arrived back in Scranton for a reading from her first collection, “The Price of Scarlet,” April 26.

Noll, a Larksville native, graduated from the University in 2001 with an English major, a writing concentration and a minor in music history. She received her MFA from Florida State University, and received her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she currently teaches at the school’s honors college. “The Price of Scarlet,” published this year through the University Press of Kentucky, began as her doctoral dissertation at UIC.

However, her roots in poetry stretch back a long time.

“I always sort of kept a diary… I remember writing poems as early as maybe 12, but you know… a 12-year-old writing poems, it’s embarrassing. I hope to never stumble upon them,” Noll said.

Noll eventually attended The University, where she said she had a great experience and took poetry workshops with Professor John Hill.

”I never really took it seriously, as anything more than a hobby, until I took a class with J. (Hill), and he sort of told me that I was good at it, which was nice to hear,” Noll said. “But, then, he sort of introduced me to… poetry as… a profession… He helped me get into graduate school and it’s the reason I’m on the path I’m on.”

Hill said he had a good experience with Noll as his student, as well.

“As a professor, I try to find out what students want to accomplish and what I can do to help them accomplish it.  Then I get out of their way,” Hill said.  “Brianna was the ideal student to work with.”

Noll sat-in with Hill’s poetry workshop, where students have previously read a few of her poems in class, on Tuesday, April 25. Senior English major Brina Platt admires Noll’s recent collection.

“I think it’s incredibly rich with images and sort of this aspect of mythology and Japanese culture intertwined in it, and I think that’s just amazing,” Platt said.

Noll describes the poetry she currently writes as lyric, generally non-narrative and somewhat “meditative.” She said she likes to write about art and aesthetics, as well as language. Noll studies the Japanese language and evidence of her interest in the language and culture appears in The Price of Scarlet.  Nature and the philosophic notion of the sublime also factors heavily into her work as a major theme.

“So many of my poems are nature poems, but I don’t like to think of them as just as ‘oh the trees are so pretty,’” Noll said. “It’s sort of like ‘Well, why are we interested in natural things that are dangerous?’”

So far, Noll has enjoyed the experience of releasing her first collection. The week before coming to Scranton, she gave a reading in promotion of “The Price of Scarlet” at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago as part of the Open Door reading series.

“It’s been great… and maybe a little weird, too. I’m not really the self-promotional type,” Noll said.

Noll already has plans in the work her next collection.

“It’s a slow process… It’s been a finalist in a lot of contests, which is a sign that maybe someone will pick it up soon… I feel like it’s ready,” Noll said. “So, hopefully I’ll have a second book coming soon.”

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