April 17, 2019
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
James Finn Cotter, professor of English at Mount Saint Mary College, presented a reading of his poetry on Tuesday, April 16.
Mount Saint Mary College ushered in the spring season with its annual April poetry series, this year featuring acclaimed authors Eamon Grennan and the college’s own James Finn Cotter.
Grennan’s Irish roots often inform his poetry, which at the Tuesday, April 9 reading included works about family, the Hudson Valley, and travel.
A Dubliner, Grennan has taught at Vassar College and New York University. His recent poetry collections include Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems (Graywolf), There Now (Graywolf), and But the Body (Gallery, Ireland). His volume Still Life with Waterfall (Graywolf) won the Lenore Marshall Prize.
He has translated the poems of Leopardi (winner of the PEN award in translation) and co-translated Oedipus at Colonus (Oxford). He has also written a book of critical essays called Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century. In the past few years, he has been writing and directing plays for a small Irish theatre group, the Curlew Theatre Company.
Covering topics ranging from family and friends to nature and the circle of life, James Finn Cotter, the longest serving professor at the Mount, read his poems to the college community on Tuesday, April 16.
Cotter, who has taught English at the Mount for more than 50 years, is the author of Inscape: The Christology and Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins; Beginnings: The First Twenty-Five Years of Mount Saint Mary College; and A New Life: Learning the Way of Omega. As a scholar, he has penned articles on Hopkins, Dante, Chaucer, Sir Philip Sidney, and J.D. Salinger. As poet and literary critic, he’s been published in America, Commonweal, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The New York Times, Sparrow, Spirit, Thought, and other periodicals.
The longtime resident of the City of Newburgh is a celebrated translator of Dante’s Commedia, a seasoned theater and arts reviewer, a Fulbright-Hays lecturer, a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, and the president of the International Hopkins Association for 30 years.
Additionally, Cotter wrote the Mount’s alma mater (1964), taught English in Algeria as a Fulbright scholar (1970), inspired numbers of students and professors (since 1963), and raised three children (Anne, James, and John).
He also found time to become an experienced and enthusiastic hiker, drawing on his outdoor experiences by exploring natural and spiritual themes in his poetry.
April is National Poetry Month, noted Cotter, making April a fitting month for the annual readings at the college.
Both readings were sponsored by the division of Arts & Letters and hosted by the Mount Saint Mary College Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center.