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Nov. 8, 2000
OSWEGO -- When JoEllen Kwiatek of the Oswego State English department got a phone call from The American Poetry Review saying it would print her poems, she was surprised.
She hadn't sent any poems to the publication.
As it turned out, a friend had done Kwiatek the favor of mailing in her poems. The result is a cover photo of Kwiatek and nine of her poems in the November-December issue of the bimonthly publication.
There's a double twist to this story. The American Poetry Review is the first place she had a poem professionally published, a piece she had written as an undergraduate at Syracuse University. And, the publication had previously rejected some of the very poems that appear in the current issue.
"This is a great honor that JoEllen would be recognized by this national publication, and it's just one more indication of her stature in the poetry field," says Brad Korbesmeyer, director of Oswego's Writing Arts Program. "What's great for our students is that that they can continue to share her experiences and success."
Kwiatek's very first publication mirrors her current situation. As a 14-year-old, she had two of her poems published in a book, "Daughters in High School." They were submitted by her high school Latin teacher.
She always knew she wanted to be a poet, Kwiatek says, and she credits the support of others along the way.
Her parents supported her decision to attend Syracuse University's creative writing program. "I had good teachers there, and I'm grateful to them," she says. She also met many friends who are writers.
Kwiatek earned her bachelor's degree at Syracuse University and her master's at Johns Hopkins University.
She came back to Syracuse to complete course work for her doctorate in British literature. She stayed on at her alma mater, teaching in the writing program there, until taking her current position as assistant professor at Oswego in 1998.
"The person who sent my poems in (to The American Poetry Review) was a friend from grad school," she says. "The person who helped get my first book published was, too."
The poems in the current issue of The American Poetry Review are some of those that will appear in Kwiatek's next book, as yet untitled. They mark a transition from the style of poetry in her first volume, "Eleven Days Before Spring," published by HarperCollins in 1994.
In that book, she says, she paid much more attention to syntax. Now she is aiming in a different direction. "I wanted to write with images, not description," she says. "I wanted to retain the power of details and write symbolically."
The American Poetry Review was founded in 1972. Since then it has published more than 1,400 writers including nine Nobel Prize laureates and 31 Pulitzer Prize winners.
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CONTACT: Jolene Kwiatek, 312-2615

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