Married poet duo to perform at SMC
Joel Peckham Jr. and Susan Atefat Peckham are writers, poets and teachers. They are also married to each other.
In celebration of "National Poetry Week" the Department of English is sponsoring the husband and wife poets' joint reading of their work tonight in Stapleton Lounge at 7 p.m.
The couple currently lives in Michigan with their two young children. Both are professors at Hope College and share duties in a partnership so that both have time with the children, each other and their work.
"We call it literally five hours, five hours. I work from eight to one and Susan works from one to six," Peackham said. "We have five hours to get everything done, which has actually made me a more disciplined writer, splitting [time] between my scholarship and creative writing, I turn out a lot more work than most of my writer friends who aren't married and have children."
Peckham's first book, "Nightwalking," was published in 2001 by Pecan Grove Press and was his first poetry collection. Peckham also writes scholarly reviews, articles and is a scholar of American Literature.
"You don't write poetry to make money. It's something you do because you can't stop," Peckham said.
Susan Atefat Peckham's first book "That Kind of Sleep," is this year's winner of the National Poetry Series and is published by Coffee House Press. In addition to writing, Atefat Peckham is also a musician and a painter. As an undergraduate, she earned a pre-med degree from Baylor University, but instead of continuing on to medical school, she stayed at Baylor and received her M.A. in English, where she and her husband met at a Byron seminar.
"I don't think I knew I was going to be a writer," Atefat Peckham said. "It's something you just fall into, you do it because you need to."
Atefat Peckham explained that she is a "multi-task person" and so she thinks about and writes her poems in her mind during the school year and then writes books during the summer.
"I teach to support my habits, but the ideal job is to teach writing," Atefat Peckham said. "I can't believe I get paid to teach people what I love. I feel very lucky to have an academic job, I love my students and they are invigorating."
Peckham and Atefat Peckham will also be speaking at a poetry workshop in Haggar Parlor from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
All News Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002