New poetry display looks at bright side of snow
A winter of weekly blizzards and sky-high snowbanks has left many Bostonians cringing at any thought of snow. So a UMass Boston English professor created a public poetry display to remind us that snow, and the sense of togetherness it creates, can be a good thing.
Associate Professor of English Cheryl Nixon curated a collection of 14 poems about snow, which have been printed out and prominently displayed on the walls of the English Department on the sixth floor of Wheatley Hall.
Nixon said she was inspired to create the display after reading the poem “Backhoe in Snow, Boston” by her colleague, Professor of English Jill McDonough, which was published in the Boston Globe last month.
“Although we were all feeling a bit depressed maybe by the snow, artists have been inspired by the snow,” said Nixon. “There’s a little bit of creativity that comes out of a snowstorm.”
Nixon said a couple of snow poems—such as Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”—came to mind immediately. As she looked to complete the collection, Nixon noted that most poets had a very romantic view of winter weather.
“I didn’t really find any that were about how horrible the snow is. Most of the poets see it as beautiful. … For the poet, the brown earth gets covered by this beautiful blanket of snow. I guess when you look at it through that lens, it’s pretty magical.”
McDonough’s poem highlights another positive to take away from this trying winter.
“She was emphasizing how the Boston neighbors were coming together,” Nixon said. “I think she tried to capture that snow can bring out the unity among us.”
Nixon says the snow poems will remain on display indefinitely. In the future, she plans to look for more opportunities to put creative writing—including student contributions—on display throughout campus.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive comments about it. People are used to seeing a lot of posters around on campus, but we haven’t made a concerted effort around trying to get poetry or creative writing out there.”