Professor publishes poetry collection

Kellen Brandt, Features Reporter

Delta Eddy, is an English professor at Winona State University and newly published author of her poetry collection titled, “Sparks” published in 2020.

“This is a collection of poetry I’ve been working on for my adult life,” Eddy said. “It includes poems from every decade I’ve been alive and writing poetry, so the 70s, 80s, 90s and even more current are in there.”

Eddy has tried to publish previous books but never meant to have this one in particular published. Around 2015, Eddy gave up on trying to publish books and moved to poetry.

“Screw it, I’m done,” Eddy quipped.

“The way it came about was kind of a fluke,” Eddy said. “I gave a manuscript of my poems to a colleague in the English department back in the 90s at some point and recently he found this manuscript and suggested it to a friend of his, who was the editor of Shipwreckt Books Publishing Company, and he was interested.”

A book of poems more than 20 years old resurfaced and piqued the interest of a publisher, “so it was really inspiring,” Eddy said.

James Armstrong is an English professor at Winona State and currently teaching Dr. Eddy’s book in some of his classes.

Eddy spoke about her book of poems to Armstrong’s class as the release celebration of her book, since she was unable to have an in-person event due to COVID-19.

Eddy’s poems touch on a wide range of subjects from physics, to Greek mythology, to her own life. Eddy talked about emitting photons in one sentence and The Odyssey in the next.

Eddy also included elegies and many other personal poems in her book of poetry.

“One of the poems is, for example, an elegy for my father,” Eddy said. “I wrote it as he was dying.”

Eddy found a passage and character from The Odyssey that reflected her father and found poetry in it.

“In that I saw my father, you know, a good man, loved this family did everything he could, loved his country, he survived the Battle of the Bulge and went to World War II and then he was at the end of his life,” Eddy said. “I just wanted to see him welcomed into his next phase. And so that scene became my father, leaving this life.”

Elizabeth Oness is also a professor of English at Winona State University and is featured on the back of “Sparks” sharing her thoughts on the collection of poetry.

Oness closes her statement on the back cover of ““Sparks” is a marvelous collection.”

Oness talked about the poems and what she appreciates about them.

“Although they’re grounded in little snippets of her life, they’re also really philosophical poems,” Oness said. “On one level, they are clear and you can understand what’s going on in the poem. And on another level, they have a lot of layers to them. So there is a lot to think about and mull over.”

Many of the poems in the collection have an “intense involvement with landscape,” Armstrong said.

“Those poems are really beautiful, and students can learn a lot about how to write about their local environment in a knowledgeable way. She knows the names of all the trees and the birds, and she writes about them beautifully,” Armstrong said.

Aside from the personal elegies to relatives and friends, and poems including landscape found in the selected poetry, Eddy talked about some of her personal poems as well.

“I’m transgender so I wrote most of those poems living as a man and part of the prospect for me was to look my work over and find where is the woman is in these poems? And frankly, she was everywhere,” Eddy said. “That was the delight for me that I’m looking over, you know, things I wrote 30 years ago going, ‘I’ve transitioned, I’m a whole new person now’ and yet there she was talking to me from all poems. I was finding her everywhere because there she was. She’s me.”

“Sparks” has no direct mentions of Eddy’s transition other than the back “About the Poet” page.

“The transition is not really the focus of the book, because the transition is not really the focus of my life,” Eddy said. “It is something that has been a part of me all my life and only was recently expressed. It’s this thing that I have lived through, something that I survived.”

Eddy said she plans to talk about her transition more in future work because it deserves more direct treatment than she was able to give it in her book of poetry, Eddy said.

A lot of the poems in the book are about love and sex because “that’s an interesting part of my life,” Eddy said.

“I don’t think they’re particularly lurid, well one of them is a little,” Eddy quipped.

Eddy explained how she sees life in mythic terms and life as a continuum. What the Greeks were experiencing, we still experience today as well.

“Their world is this world,” Eddy said. “The world of gods and magic and mysticism and miracles and heroes, and the villains and monsters is really this world.”

Eddy has a variety of themes, topics and ideas in her book of selected poetry. Eddy tried to include every major problem, issue or theme she has worked through or explored in her collection but stated some poems did not make the cut.

“One was a poem that I had written about my 25th birthday. And I wrote it about 25 years afterward, but it was a poem and it was about, oh, sex and drugs and rock and roll,”

Eddy did not include this poem in her book because “it was a man’s poem,” Eddy said.

“This b ook, “Sparks,” it really is looking back on a life, and a teaching career in a way that is both poignant in certain ways, but also I think satisfying and I think that that’s a wonderful thing,” Oness said.

Armstrong has had the office next to Eddy for about 22 years.

“I know her from that context of being next door all these years and have always enjoyed talking about everything from poetry to classical literature to blues,” Armstrong said.

Aside from Armstrong’s personal and professional experiences with Eddy, he knows many students have enjoyed their time in Eddy’s classes.

“I know a lot of students have had really wonderful experiences in her classes and my students right now are speaking very highly of her so it’s too bad this is her last year,” Armstrong said. “But, good for her she gets to go on to the rest of her life, but I think sad for the students who haven’t had her as there won’t be any more Dr. Eddy classes after this semester.”

Eddy has been teaching at Winona State University for 33 years with plans to retire at the end of May of 2021.

Eddy talked about her love of Winona, the university and her time spent at Winona State.

“It surprises me how much I can love a place,” Eddy said. “The students we have here today are a quantum leap ahead of the students we had when I first started. This institution has revolutionized itself. It has drawn some of the best talent in the country, and certainly some of the best students in the country.”

While her time at Winona State is coming to an end, Eddy’s writing career will continue.

“It’s been a long, crazy life,” Eddy said. “It is an amazing life, I am really lucky. Five wonderful dogs, an amazing wife and I’m going home to them.”