"I feel the award is just part of a resurgent interest in Ohio poetry over the past few years. Too often we think that poets only work on the coasts...but presses like Bottom Dog Press (which published The River's Daughter) are publishing fine work here and in the Midwest in general," Hermsen said. "I feel honored to be a part of that 'new wave.' Though the award has been around for many decades, the Ohio Poetry Association is doing a lot to make our work more widely known. I believe poetry has a lot to say to our times."
Since 1938, the third Friday of October has been set aside as Ohio Poetry Day. However, Hermsen will be unable to attend the ceremony held that day. He will be a poet-in-residence at a bilingual school in Chile, where he will also participate in the International Congress of poetry.
Hermsen credits his experiences at Wittenberg with discovering his passion for writing, with "nurturing the deep love of literature that my professors brought to their teaching," he said. "I went home from my classes inspired by all that literature could say and have spent my life since trying to emulate that in even a small way, both in my teaching (the 25 years I spent traveling the state with the Ohio Arts Council's writers-in-the-school program, and now in teaching college) and in my own poems.
"I couldn't have asked for a better grounding as a poet than what I received at this college. I should also say that the emphasis on the arts in general at the college helped me see connections between the arts. I loved my music appreciation class, my drawing class and the theatre productions I saw."
Hermsen also reviewed those productions for the Springfield News-Sun.
Currently on sabbatical from Otterbein College, where he has been a professor of poetry, composition and literature for the last five years, Hermsen worked as a field representative for the Ohio Arts Council Artists in Education program from 1979 until 2004 and remains an active faculty member for various programs. He has published several journals, both poetry and prose, edited several books, including Teaching Writing from a Writer's Point of View, written the academic text Poetry of Place: Helping Students Write Their Worlds, poetry chapbooks, including 36 Spokes: the Bicycle Poems, and his first full-length collection of poetry, The River's Daughter.
Hermsen was one of four Wittenberg alumni invited to participate in the Wittenberg Series 1998-1999 "Distinguished Alumni Fellows Residency," which was a first-of-its-kind alumni writers' residency to celebrate ways Wittenberg graduates exemplify creativity and learning.
Hermsen earned his Master of Fine Arts (Poetry) from Goddard College in 1988, and his Doctorate in Art Education from The Ohio State University in 2003.
Written by: Phyllis Eberts
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