Greg Brownderville is relishing his role as a new member of SMU’s growing creative writing faculty. The first tenure-track poetry professor to be hired at SMU in 37 years, Brownderville hopes to spark excitement in student poets and to help establish continuity within SMU’s rigorous and innovative creative writing program.
Brownderville, who previously taught creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, says that his sensory delight in language is at the heart of his work both as a poet and as a teacher of poetry writing. He is also interested in poetry’s capacity for expressing ideas and telling stories. “I’ve always loved the way words feel in my mind,” he says.
Last year, Brownderville’s poem “Sex and Pentecost” won The Missouri Review’s audio competition in the poetry category. That piece, and a few others in his poetry collection titled Gust, was inspired by poetry written in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Gust has been as high as nineteenth on the Poetry Foundation’s list of best-selling books of contemporary poetry. Brownderville has also penned a multi-genre book titled Deep Down in the Delta.
Through reading and writing poetry, students become better at both, and improve as prose writers, too. “Poetry teaches them to weave a metaphor and embody ideas in striking images,” Brownderville says. “Those skills will serve students well.”
– Karen Nielsen