Writing prof releases poetry book

The Daily Pennsylvanian
September 27, 2007

Penn professsor Thomas Devaney reads from his newly released book of poetry, 'A Series of Small Boxes,' at Kelly Writers House yesterday.

There was no better place to for poet and Penn professor Thomas Devaney to share the fruits of his labor.

Devaney read from his new book of poetry, "A Series of Small Boxes," yesterday night at a book release party held at the Arts Cafe in the Kelly Writers House.

Seats filled with both fans and newcomers before the reading began - some audience members even sat in the adjacent room.

Jessica Lowenthal, staff director of the Writers House, introduced Devaney and praised him as a literary figure.

"With Tom, it's beyond just writing poetry: He shares his enthusiasm with students and teachers alike," Lowenthal said.

Devaney said he was excited by the release of his new book.

"I've written five books' worth of poetry in the past three weeks," he began, "and it's nice that this book has finally been released."

Listeners responded with laughter when Devaney read from "William James and the Giant Peach" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"I think 'William James' has a funny title," Devaney commented before reading the piece, "Even though I consider 'William James' in all seriousness."

Those who attended the reading said they found it enjoyable.

"I love Tom's poetry," said graduate student Jason Zuzga. "It's great to have a live performance and an imprint at the same time."

Also in the audience was Center City writer Daniel Brook.

"I've never read anything by Devaney before," Brook said. "I liked his sense of humor and the way he involved the listeners."

"Tom is one of my dearest friends," added 2007 alumna Arielle Brousse. "He has always made poetry really accessible. People who don't know a lot about poetry think it to be some sort of lofty art form, but with his amazing voice anyone can understand it if you pay attention."

College sophomore Lucy Voorhees came to support her professor.

"Professor Devaney teaches my 'Food for Thought' class. He is a great teacher and has a lot of sage advice about writing," she said.

And so he did.

"Aspiring writers should read other writers as much as they can," advised Devaney. "I think younger writers want to write but may not be as curious about what to read. Reading feeds writing."

Devaney is a Senior Writing Fellow in the English Department and was the program coordinator and producer of "LIVE at the Writers House" at the Writers House for four years.

"A Series of Small Boxes" is his second published book of poetry.

Correction: Thomas Devaney is a senior writing fellow in the Critical Writing Program.