Dolsen Visiting Writer, Matthew James Babcock, to Hold Poetry Reading

POCATELLO, Idaho–– Idaho State University’s Department of English and Philosophy is pleased to announce that Matthew James Babcock will visit ISU as the inaugural Dolsen Visiting Writer on October 19, 2022.

At 5 p.m. in The Bengal Café (Pond Student Union Building) Babcock will give a reading from his most recent book, Hidden Motion  (Finishing Line Press, 2022), followed by a Q&A session. The reading is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Matthew James Babcock is a professor in the English Department at BYU-Idaho and a prolific writer who has published books of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. His awards include the Juxtaprose Poetry Prize, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award, the AML Poetry Award, the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Short Fiction, and Winner of Press 53’s Open Awards Anthology Prize for his novella, “He Wanted to be a Cartoonist for The New Yorker.” 

Babcock’s latest book, Hidden Motion, is a poetry collection that Guggenheim-recipient David Kirby describes as a mash-up of the “driving rhythms of Sylvia Plath with the wordplay of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the jokes of Henny Youngman.” ISU Creative Writing Professor Bethany Schultz Hurst describes the poems as “wonderfully funny” with a “precise language that also makes space for sincerity and profundity.” Residents of Eastern Idaho will recognize the region in some poems, such as the Blackfoot fairgrounds (in “Taking Goethe to the Eastern Idaho State Fair”), Harriman State Park, or the parking lot of Madison Junior High School, where the speaker drops off his daughter. The poems also transport the reader to distant locations like Sligo or Lhasa, revealing humanity’s shared desire to “preserve life on a planet none of us made.”

The poetry reading will open with a brief program celebrating the creation of the Dolsen Visiting Writer Event Endowment, a fund that will support the Department of English and Philosophy in annually hosting a visiting creative writer for a public reading and educational activities. The endowment has been established by Tom Neel, an alumnus of ISU who earned his B.A. in English with minors in French and Philosophy in 1987. 

Mr. Neel established the Dolsen Visiting Writer Event Endowment to honor the mentorship, friendship, and respect between him and Professor Arthur Dolsen and his late wife, Marijana, and their daughter, Daria. Dolsen is Professor Emeritus of Languages and Literatures at Idaho State University, where he taught courses in Latin, Russian, and French.

Jessica Winston, Chair of the Department of English and Philosophy, describes the endowment as “a tremendous gift” that will “help us broaden awareness of some of the best new creative writing today” and foster for ISU students and the community, the “kinds of intellectual and social interactions that were and are so significant for Mr. Neel” and that will be “transformative for our students.”