Zeina Dajani ~ Intern, Spring '10
Zeina Dajani '11 was born and raised in Jerusalem, Palestine where she attended an International School. Living in a place of constant turmoil she escaped to the world of fiction and poetry to inspire her and color her world. Sylvia Plath was her introduction to Smith College and her love for both has since only grown.
"My love for poetry steams for my need to find words, words that help me digest my world. I am always amazed at the ability of poets to make personal experiences universal, it reminds that we are not alone in our happiness, suffering, or sadness. I grew up in a country where life can be very isolating and dark and poetry made me feel part of a larger world with the potential to be brighter. I believe that poetry connects us all and I feel lucky to be a part of bringing poetry to people."
Melissa Davis ~ Intern, Fall '07-Spring '08 & Fall '09-Spring '10
Melissa Davis '10 was born in July, three months ahead of schedule, which has kept her perpetually early throughout her twenty years. Although growing up in the hippie suburbia of Tacoma, Washington may not seem the most inspiring locale, Melissa unearthed plenty of inspiration as a child and as an adult. She loved, and still loves, reading and writing in all its forms, which kept her enthralled long before she was even born, as her mother read to her while she pregnant.
My favorite place in the entire world is sitting on the floor of a second-hand bookstore with a stack of 'new' books, poetry and prose. I refuse to read the synopsis on the back cover; it's too much like flipping to the last page of a novel or reading what a critic thinks of a poet. It utterly ruins the experience. I'm no longer befriending a new character or uncovering a new way to express an emotion, I'm simply returning to a place that's already been mapped out by a complete stranger; where's the fun in that?"
Lynne Francis ~ Intern, Fall '08-Fall '09
Lynne Francis AC '10 found Smith and rediscovered poetry. Happily, it wasn't too late for either. Born and raised in Virginia, she went to college there and in New York, where she married, raised three children (two of whom are Smithies) and had a career as a fund raiser.
"I grew up in the suburbs, a typical high school kid in the 60's who dressed in black on the weekends and took the bus into D.C. for art classes. I carried around books of poetry I didn't understand, and thought I looked pretty arty. A good family and work life unfolded. I dropped the arty look (which might have been a mistake), but read as much poetry as I could, took a few writing classes at the New School, and longed to be an Ada at Smith.
I am forever indebted, as many of us are, to Professors Van Dyne, Finney, Watson and Boutelle - poetry goddesses all, and now friends."
Indus Chadha ~ Intern, Fall ’08-Spring ’09
Indus Chadha ’09 was raised in Bangalore, India, and educated at the
Valley, an unconventional school founded by the philosopher J. Krishnamurti, who believed that "Surely a school is a place where
one learns about the totality, the wholeness of life.” She grew up on her mother’s made up fairy tales which, being based on a strong sense of paradox and a reconciliation of opposites, were often more poetry than prose. Much travel has made her both wide eyed and a little wise.
“I have always been moved by the lyric quality of life. It is poetry that fills the Valley in which I was raised, poetry that floods the Lake in the monsoon, poetry that drips from the branches of the Banyan tree into the Amphitheatre. It is a book bursting with poetry that my milk and honey grandmother left me. It is a poem that my father puts into the palm of my hand when he has something he would like to say. It is a poem, particular, provocative, Plath’s, which brought me to Smith, and to the Poetry Center.”
|Kim Rogers ~ Intern, Fall ’07-Spring ’08
Kim Rogers Ada '08 is a rare oddity in the neighborhood—a born and raised Northampton native (practically a Smithie from birth!) This is her senior year as an English Major.
Poetry is two things for me: Air and Witness. I must breathe it in and breathe it out every day. I also see it as a crucial witness to life. I remember seeing this movie once about a “songcatcher”—a woman who went into the mountains to record the folk songs of the locals before the music disappeared. I think poets are “songcatchers” too. Poetry documents the human spirit in its stripped down, vulnerable yet heroic act of simply living. I have this little fantasy: every small history will be recovered and reclaimed, every life validated, and the planet will grasp the curative power of poetry and take one deep, collective, poetic breath.
|Tyler Davis ~ Intern, Fall ’06-Spring ’07)
Raised in the woods of northern Minnesota’s iron-mining region, Tyler Davis developed an avid admiration for two people whose work was influenced by rural life: Robert Frost and Bob Dylan. These interests remain unwavering even today—they, among others, have informed her current tastes and opened the doors to both contemporary and ancient pursuits in poetry.
“If I had to pick a favorite moment in a poem, I think it would be that lightning instant when marvel and recognition meet. I feel awed by the words before me, knowing the stature of their achievement, and yet simultaneously as if the poet has spoken my own tongue, as though through the poem I become miraculously familiar with perfect articulation."
|Janna White ~ Intern, Fall '04-Spring '05 & Fall '06-Spring '07
Janna White ’07 was raised in Burlington, Vermont, where restlessness inspired two of her favorite pastimes: poetry and cliff jumping. She studied creative writing at Walnut Hill School, a boarding school for the arts in a suburb of Boston, where she learned to make an afternoon out of people-watching and reveled in the floor-to-ceiling stacks of the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Harvard Square.
“I recently returned from Varanasi, a city in northern India, and I found that so much of what is true of the city is true of a book of poetry. From either, you exit confused, exhilarated, disturbed, reeling in the aftershock, but counting the minutes until you can return. Here, inexplicably, the horrific becomes stunningly beautiful; chaos becomes order; and you, who should be an outsider in these foreign and unfamiliar territories, somehow find yourself on each page, in every street, entirely at home.”
|Julia Williams ~ Intern, Fall ’06-Spring ’07
Julia Williams ’07 was raised in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where she gained a love for tall trees, amphitheaters, and the endearing pretenses of academia. At Smith, Julia is a comparative literature major, studying modern and Old English – which most people agree is cheating the system, but her loopholes are airtight. She has also helped to found a heretofore secret organization called Objectifying Poets, whose raison d’être should be fairly obvious.
"I have a tenuous relationship with words. Mostly, they get away from me. Places, however, I find deeply affecting, and I daily appreciate the physical presence of the Poetry Center, with its ring of purple couches like embellished standing stones, and its wide windows always flooding in the light and dark. I’ve only been working at my own poetry since my sophomore year at Smith, when I was graced by the presence of that generous and funny soul, Eleanor Wilner. As far as the motivation to write, I like to quote the late poet and novelist Muriel Spark, responding to Eliot’s claim that writing justifies existence: 'Yes, one likes to justify an existence, but... I don't know, I think sitting in the sun is justifying your existence.'”
|Sarah Coburn ~ Fall ’05-Spring ’06
Sarah Coburn '07 was born and raised in Waterbury Connecticut,
where she grew up under the watchful eyes of her mother and grandmother.
Words, language and books created the foundations for a happy childhood,
filled with curiosity that would eventually pan out into an adolescence
dictated by wanderlust. Before coming to Smith, Sarah spent three
and a half years simultaneously pursuing her associates degree and
traveling the breadth of the United States and a wide expanse of
Europe. She often carried little more than the bare essentials—which
always included a few books of poetry.
"I tend to be a visual learner, but it's when I go back to the poems
I read—whether by Sexton or Seferis—that I find myself reminded
of the New Mexican landscape, or the smell of the Greek Islands, or wherever
I was at the time."
|Molly Shea ~ Intern, Fall ’05-Spring ‘06
Growing up in Essex, Connecticut, Molly Shea ’06 was first introduced
to poetry by her aunt, an artist living and working in nearby New York
City. Molly’s aunt has inspired the entire family with her ritual
of writing a poem every day at dawn. Much of Molly’s own poetry
has been influenced by the dedicated, creative and courageous endeavors
of her family to live their dreams. She is an art history major with
a minor in English literature.
“I love my aunt’s poetry because I feel the morning in each
of them. I know she rises at 6am to release a dream onto a page, and
if something disrupts her routine, she wrings her hands until she can
write for that day. Her passion amazes me. I am finally beginning to
touch something like passion through the process of writing. Poetry is
how I realize my own way of loving my life. Poetry readings, like those
at Smith College, are constant reminders of the writers that reinforce
my being. I go to the readings to feel a new voice mingle with not only
with the voice of my aunt, but also my grandfather and my mother. It
is a tremendous feeling.”
|Collyn Hinchey ~ Intern, Fall ’04-Spring ’05
Hinchey ’05 grew up in Kingston, PA, a suburb of a former
coal-mining city with four full seasons. Early influences were walks
outside and the easy heartaches of children's books. Educated by the
Jesuits, Collyn learned about excess and loss from Ovid, Catullus,
and Virgil, though she remembers virtually nothing of ancient Greek.
She double majors in English Literature and Art History. Her favorite
poem is "In Memoriam." She likes to read aloud.
"I love the Antiques Roadshow of poetry: will it be worth a quarter
million or turn out to be a fake? Look at the detailing! Can you believe
they refinished it? Kept it in the basement? I take so much of history,
faith, rapture from poetry, but above all I'm in it for description.
Anything that strengthens my sightline with a turn of phrase. There's
this line in Mark Doty's ‘Lilacs in NYC’: ‘that intoxicating
window / the horizontal avenues provide’—that's what I
see every time I walk down a street in New York. An intoxicating window.
A few words worth a thousand pictures."
|Alexandra Goldschmidt ~ Intern, Fall '03 - Spring '04
A graphic arts minor, Alexandra Goldschmidt was raised in Teaneck, New
Jersey, where she perfected the art of firefly catching. For as long
as she can remember, her passions have been split between art and literature,
but they were seldom separate from one another. The Poetry Center has
given her the chance to explore her love of the printed word, both as
poetry and as an art in itself.
“I’ve long been enamored of that place where words and art meet and
blur and become indistinguishable. Both art and poetry can speak alone, but it
is their combined voices which have always spoken to me.”
|Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell ~ Intern, Fall ’03-Spring ’04
Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where
she came to poetry through the gritty bohemian rhythms of Allen Ginsberg
and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and dreamed of road trip adventures à la
Jack Kerouac. She is majoring in philosophy and English.
“I devoured my first collections of poetry searching for a language with
which to express the pulsating experiences of my youth, but within the pages
of those collections, I found more than a language; I found a mode of comprehension,
a revised awareness of the world and my experience in it. These days I’m
continuing to explore new pathways of understanding through the political poetics
of Anna Akhmatova and Wislawa Szymborska. Being a part of the work of the Poetry
Center provides me with the extraordinary opportunity to regularly develop new
modes of comprehension; with the arrival of each visiting poet, I lend myself
to new ways of knowing and magnified ways of seeing.”
|Batinah Amarita Rabia Dawdy ~ Intern, Fall ’02-Spring ’03
Batinah Dawdy was raised in a Sufi Community in the Berkshire Mountains
of eastern New York where she was first exposed to the mystical poetry
of Rumi and Hafiz. She is a Spanish major/Latin American Studies minor
who has a deep love for poetry and translation.
"Every time I embark upon an important journey in life, my mother hands
me a new book of poems. When I discovered the art and challenge of translating
poetry during my sophomore year at Smith, my love for poetry only deepened.
My favorite poets wrote in languages other than English: Alfonsina Storni
and Julio Cortazar, both from Argentina, and Rumi, who performed his
pulsing poetry orally in Persian. As an intern for the Poetry Center,
my appreciation for poetry has been stretched and renewed; new favorites
include contemporary poets Lucille Clifton and Adrienne Rich who write
in my mother tongue. I feel incredibly lucky that my job requires me
to read poetry and to meet amazing poets!"
|Allison Hector ~ Intern, Fall ’02-Spring ’03
Allison Hector grew up near Portland, Oregon, and clings to the refreshing
dampness of her youth in the Northwest. Place has come to influence much
of her work in writing and visual art. She is in her final year at Smith,
majoring in Art and Women’s Studies.
“Schooled in a love of performance poetry while still enjoying the realness,
visuality and tactile quality of the held poetry book or chapbook, I feel privileged
to be an active part of the dynamism of the Poetry Center. The fragmentary and
scattered nature of my own work collides in a brilliant flash with the art and
work that we collectively create. When these fragments synthesize into real moments,
into corporeal and tangible bodies of real poets and their fleshy poetry I continually
re-realize the importance of poetry and art in creating and re-creating myself
as a being in this world as well as making real the connections between people
in this community.”
|Neda Maghbouleh ~ Intern, Fall ’01-Spring ’02
The daughter of a Muslim mother and Jewish father, Neda Maghbouleh was
born in New York City and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is majoring
in Sociology and minoring in Economics.
"I've been reading, writing and performing some sort of poetry since the age
of 3. For years, at their cocktail parties and in front of the family video camera,
Mom and Dad took advantage of my love for performing. My fascination with words…maybe
it can be traced back to my Iranian heritage: deeply entrenched in the tradition
of poetry, both written and oral. Or maybe I just loved the attention and still
love poetry for the forum, audience, and discourse it provides. That's what drew
me to the Poetry Center… poets and their words flutter onto campus and
we attend the readings in droves, to hold their winged words in our hands for
|Katherine Hagner ~ Intern, Fall ’01-Spring ’02
"Poems are how my brain works. They begin with sliced images, morsels,
fragments of scent and taste. Pasted together, these loose thoughts and
sensations become the thickly-textured collage that is a poem. As an
English major from small town NH, I am lucky to be a part of the poetry
readings at Smith. There is an enchantment in hearing a poet read aloud.
That closed-eyes recognition, 'Mmm, yes.' It's luxurious."
|Monica Dacumos ~ Intern, Fall ’00-Spring ’01
The daughter of a Manila-born Navyman and a central California Chicana,
Monica Dacumos was born in Honolulu, HI and raised in San Diego, CA.
Her main area of study is in women-of-color feminist theories, along
with a minor in Spanish. She is a junior.
"The first poetry I ever heard were the songs my mother sang to me:
improvised rhymes and catchy melodies. Since then I have looked for the
music in poetry, whether in hip hop, a sonnet or my own work. The Poetry
Center allows me and many others to stand in the nexus of so many different
strains--beautiful, discordant, and provocative strains that ever-enrich
|Stephanie Faith Wiens ~ Intern, Fall ’00-Spring ’01
Stephanie Faith was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s
a senior at Smith, an English major with a possible minor in Spanish.
"I think my love of poetry started with the diary I began writing in
when I was in the first grade. In that diary and all my subsequent journals,
there are pages and pages of poems that were meant to be songs. I wanted
to be a singer from the time I was a little girl. So I wrote these "songs" in
four line stanzas with the 2nd and 3rd lines rhyming. I would take them
to my dad, who is a pianist, and he set them to music. I wrote poetry
long before I began to read it; I didn’t really read poetry until
college. So the one love came first and then the other."
|Taymiya Zaman~ Intern, Fall ’99-Spring ’00
Taymiya Zaman is a junior at Smith, a philosophy major with a possible minor in history.
"I cannot think of a time when I did not love poetry. When I was a child, my
parents often read poetry to me instead of bedtime stories. Poetry has come to represent many things to me--the words of someone
else that seem to express what you mean, or words that speak of unfamiliar experiences
and make them familiar somehow. Working at the poetry center allows me to meet
different poets, and to catch a slice of their realities. It is good to know
that there is a realm for poetry at Smith, and that I can invite people into
|Binta Jeffers ~ Intern, Fall ’99-Spring ’00
Born in Brooklyn New York, raised both in Massachusetts and Wisconsin,
Binta Jeffers '00 has been an avid lover of poetry for most of her life.
She credits her parents' love of music and language, and the infectious
enthusiasm of a few dedicated teachers: "When I was in second grade,
my teacher helped me sew together my first book of short poems. I was
hooked! The way poetry condenses both memory and dream is amazing. I
find that listening to poetry is a way of briefly stepping into someone
else's experience, in a way that subtly changes my own. The Poetry Center
at Smith makes these special moments possible for a wide array of people."
A senior at Smith, Binta is majoring in comparative literature and art history,
and contributes to student literary publications.
|Senait Kassahun ~ Intern, Fall ’98-Spring ’99
"My internship at the Poetry Center was enlightening, challenging, and
full of warmth - a poignant entry into the world of poetry and its limitless
realm of self-expression. Now I'm about to enter a doctoral program in
Clinical Psychology - worlds away from poetry, yes, but perhaps not so
far as it seems. The Poetry Center showed me the transformations that
can occur when a writer puts the angst, love, and truth once confined
by her mind into free words, even when our world does not seem so free.
I carry these lessons with me into my work and study. After graduate
school, I hope to return to my father's native country, Eritrea, to work
with individuals affected by the trauma of war."
|Abe Louise Young ~ Intern, Fall ’98-Spring ’99
Abe Louise Young ’99 was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A Sophia Smith Scholar in Poetry, Young served as the Poetry Center’s
first intern, working closely with Elizabeth Alexander and Annie Boutelle
as the Poetry Center was created and through its first two years. She
went on to earn an MA in Performance Studies at Northwestern University
and is a Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University
of Texas at Austin for 2002-2005.
"I see this as the carving out of a lush and beautiful garden--anyone can come,
be moved by the scents and the beauty of what grows there, drink the clear water
of words. A Poetry Center offers its gifts to the community: not just the campus,
but the community as a whole. I was changed on a cellular level by the love involved
in making it happen, the energy of falling in love with so many people and so
many poems at once! Hearing people (poets) declare, unequivocally, that they
believe in life, growth, truth, beauty, unresolved complexity--and not war, deception,
cash, acquiescence--is something I will never stop needing. To quip Sophia Smith:
it's a perennial blessing, to women and the world."