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Pair of Poets Present Work At Writers Series Event

January 3, 2013 by admin

By Anna Neledva

     “You are going to have two different chocolates from one box today,” said Suzanne Parker, director of the Visiting Writers Series as she introduced poets Rodney Wittwer and Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, who came to share their work with Brookdale students on Dec. 4.
     “People are good. They give you everything, every lesson, except they can’t give you your daughter back,” said Bonanno.
     The first poem from the collection of “Slamming Open the Door” was written by Bonanno on the day she was told that her daughter was murdered. It took her five years to finish the book.
     Bonanno’s daughter Leidy was found dead in her apartment in 2003, strangled with a telephone cord by an ex-boyfriend. She had recently graduated from nursing school.
     “My agent told me that it is one depressing book. When I was trying to write about anything else, it seemed inappropriate,” said Bonanno.
     “I am mother, too. This is the worst thing that can happen to any mother,” said Donna Flinn, Associate English Professor, who purchased one of Bonanno’s books.
     Bonanno shared her feelings with the world as she described different events in the aftermath of her daughter’s death in “Slamming Open the Door.”  She shared the things she regrets she has done, as well as the things she didn’t do while her daughter was alive.
     “I regret that when I was brushing her hair when she was little, I pulled it hard on purpose,” Bonanno read.
     There were a couple of moments when Bonanno would pause in an attempt to hold back tears. There was dead silence in the room. Everyone was holding their breath expressing silent sympathy to this brave woman who managed to fight with her pain by expressing it in her poetry.
     Rodney Wittwer impressed the audience with his style, too.
     “I’m a writer too, and Rodney’s style is fascinating. I truly appreciate the work he shared with us,” said Joe Truisi, 18-year-old education major from Manalapan.
     “The Writers Series is one of the best events at Brookdale. Both writers were amazing. They managed to balance through,” said Sam Rubinstein, president of the Creative Writing Club.
     “I think it was a great success. It was a wonderful Writers Series to end the semester with,” said Parker.
     Wittwer is a native of Wisconsin. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981 and his M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.  His poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, DIAGRAM, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Literary Review, Memorious, Pebble Lake Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, and Verse Daily, among others. “Gone & Gone” was his first book.
     Bonanno is an award-winning author and poet who received the Beatrice Hawley Award for her book of poetry, “Slamming Open the Door,” which was the ninth best-seller for contemporary poetry in 2009. Two of the book's poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and poet Sharon Olds calls the work "a gift of power, truth, rage, and beauty."

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