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May 26, 2017

Poem in UMass Boston professor's new book featured in New York Times

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  • Boston
McDonough to Join Fellow UMass Boston Poets at May 26 Reading

Military technology, including drones, plays a key role in Reaper, the new volume of poetry by Jill McDonough, a professor in UMass Boston's English Department. One of the poems, “My Sister Wants to Buy My Dad a Drone for Father’s Day,” was published in The New York Times last month.

“I like to think a lot about secrets and the secrets that we’re paying for with our taxes, so when I started reading about disproportionate, violent responses internationally and disproportionate technology that we’re using, these amazing killer robot planes from Dulles Air Force Base to kill people on horseback, I wanted to read a lot more about it, and there wasn’t a lot out there,” McDonough said. “Writing the poems at first was a way for me to process the information that I was digging up, and thinking through things.”

McDonough went to New Mexico to visit Trinity Site, where the world's first test explosion of an atomic bomb took place in 1945. She also visited the declassified bunker at The Greenbrier, an emergency Cold War shelter in West Virginia originally intended for Congress, and toured Boston Dynamics, a local engineering company that builds military robots.

“It’s scary, but it’s also really beautiful and kind of moving to meet the people who are working on these things,” McDonough said.

This Friday at 7 p.m., McDonough will join two other UMass Boston poets out with new books, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and Lloyd Schwartz, for a poetry reading at Brookline Booksmith on Harvard Street in Brookline.

This year, McDonough used funds from the Civic Engagement Scholars Initiative (CESI), a joint project between UMass Boston’s Office of Community Partnerships and Office for Faculty Development, to team up with the nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization 826 Boston on another book project. McDonough’s graduate students worked on creative writing with local youth. Those student stories were turned into a book, due out this month.

WBZ-TV did a story on 826 Boston’s “The Writers’ Room.”

Sunday, McDonough is the guest on Commonwealth Journal on WUMB 91.9 FM. She’ll be talking about the intersection between poetry and politics at 7:30 a.m. A podcast version of the show will be available after the May 28 air date.

Reaper is available from Amazon and local bookstores.

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