Magazine Feature / People

English student has first poetry book published

Writing is an insatiable drive for senior English major Matthew Henningsen, who in the last year has written two books of poetry and a novel. His poetry book, Without Looking Too Far (AuthorHouse, 2007), was published earlier this year.

Henningsen says the book will take on its own meaning for the individual reader, but the overall plot addresses love and its decay. Rather than a collection of individual poems, each piece in Without Looking Too Far works in concert with the others as the book follows the narrative arch of the human condition. 

Form and function work together revealing meaning through both the words and structure of the poetry, starting with traditionally constructed poems, then gradually becoming more experimental in form and more critical in meaning. 

Henningsen’s literary inspiration ranges from Bob Dylan to T.S. Eliot and Alfred Tennyson. The book’s title comes from the lyrics to Dylan’s “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, where he sings, “It’s easy to see without looking too far/That not much/Is really sacred.” 

English Associate Professor Bill Zaranka says Henningsen’s remarkable drive not only to write, but also to pursue future goals, sets him apart from most students. As a first-year student Henningsen was already asking questions about graduate school, Zaranka says. 

“He’s a great poet, and he has a great future because he’s so exuberant and absolutely determined to succeed,” Zaranka says. 

Henningsen hopes to go on to get his doctorate in literature, but also plans to keep writing. “I always felt you had to learn how great writers write before you do it yourself,” he says.

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