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Graduate, Teacher Publishes Poetry


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Written by: Communicator StaffSeptember 11, 2014

Madolyn Murray


Shannon Elward has successfully transitioned from a IPFW student to teacher and successfully published poet. More of her work will be published in the mid-October issue of Calibanonline and she, along with Ben Larson, former-limited time lecturer of English at IPFW, started an online poetry journal called Map Points. What about IPFW helped her get to this point?

“Definitely the classes. I was able to study a lot of different aspects of writing from rhetoric and composition to more kind of narrative styles of writing, creative nonfiction, things like that. The ability to study all sorts of different types of writing definitely impacted my thoughts as a writer of all sorts.”

She also mentioned the professors that she has had have always encourage her.

“They’re always willing to kind of take the extra mile and meet with their students. The sort of care that they have in that regard is so important I think to helping students discover their interests and further those interests in whatever kind of way that takes,” Elward said.

Elward has adopted the teaching approaches she observed as a student in her own teaching role.

“Before you start teaching as a teaching assistant, which I used to be…you’re taking classes that show you the ropes and then you have to be recommended, but beyond that, I think I always and I still do keep in mind those favorite teachers of mine and their teaching pedagogy and then how I can incorporate that into my own teaching style.”

As for her poetry style, she acknowledged her inspiration comes from reading other people’s poetry. Her favorites include Jack Spicer, Muriel Rukeyser and George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana and Professor of English at IPFW. In fact, Elward took through graduate and undergraduate, 10 classes with Kalamaras and she started seriously thinking about poetry writing while under him.

Elward and Larson are going over submissions for the second issue of Map Points. The main theme of the poetry journal is the concept of duende, taken from Federico García Lorca’s essay, “Theory and Function of the Duende”.

Elward describes duende as “the passion that accompanies art with the knowledge that really any breath could be your last. Not in a depressing way, but more in an empowering and passionate way.”

While Elward and Larson likely won’t be holding more events like the Map Points launch party at Wunderkrammer last June due to Larson moving to Seattle, they hope to release more print issues, either yearly or once every two years.

Elward mentioned Kalamaras’ assisting her and Larson with Map Points was “a huge experience for us and George helped a lot with helping us to get some really big name poets in the issue, allowing us to interview him for the issue, and then sort of advising us towards the nuts and bolts of starting a journal.”

Kalamaras had only good things to say about Elward and her time as a student. “Shannon was a most excellent student in all of the classes she took with me and she easily took ten or more classes with me (as both an undergraduate and graduate student). She is bright, curious and sophisticated in her thinking.”

Likewise, Elward mentioned Kalamaras as being “very encouraging” and “very helpful,” especially when it came to getting into graduate school, starting Map Points and sending poems out for publication. Kalamaras’ helpfulness is an example of IPFW faculty going the extra mile, as well as his own interest in poetry advocacy.

“The poets who make the deepest and most rapid progress are those who express poetry in an expanisve way, such as Shannon has done,” Kalamaras said.