By: Karisa Cernera
Last Wednesday, March 28, poet Steve Foley gave a reading at the Wean Terrace Room in Mather Hall. Foley is the 2011–2012 winner of the Ogden Poetry Prize and is a published author and teacher. His poems have been featured in major publications such as Northeast Magazine, Friends’ Journal and The Portland Review. He has also published two novels, one chapbook entitled, “With the Hollow of Your Hand,” and a full-length novel entitled, “A Place at the Table.” A book signing and reception followed the reading.
Foley graduated from Trinity College in 1972 and went on to become an esteemed member of the literary community. While at Trinity, Foley was inspired and mentored by the late Hugh Ogden. “Hugh was not only my teacher and mentor but also my great, great friend,” said Foley. Ogden’s daughter, Cynthia Ogden, told the audience that Ogden thought of Foley as his friend and believed him to be a great writer. She even read excerpts from Ogden’s own journal where he praised the literary skills of Foley. “What a benefit and blessing to have him help me on my own writing,” Foley commented.
Along with being a distinguished poet, he worked for over 30 years as a teacher, English Department Chair, and director of dramatic productions at middle and high schools in the Connecticut public school system before his retirement in 2007. He is the winner of numerous awards, including Poet of the Year, awarded to him by the New England Association of Teachers of English in 1980. During the last three decades, Foley has given readings at highly-esteemed places such as The New Britain Museum of American Art and the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.
Foley took the time at the reading to not only showcase his work, but to also honor his friend and mentor Hugh Ogden. “My goal for this evening is to have Hugh share the spotlight with me,” said Foley. Foley did so by reading excerpts from Ogden’s book “Gift” as well as “Bringing a Fir Straight Down.” Foley told the audience that he was inspired by Ogden and his abilities as a poet. “At the end of a Steve Foley poem, we stand with him because of his warmth, his knowledge, and his skill with words, more aware of the preciousness of life and what it means to be sensitively aware,” said Foley of Ogden’s poetry.
Foley also read many of his own poems including “The Favorite Game,” “The One Who Names” and “Up to You,” as well as many more of his literary pieces. He says that much of his inspiration comes from what he knows. He looks to his family and friends for material. His two children are the muses for many of his poetic works. Foley also used his native city, Hartford, for inspiration in his work. His poem “Smoke” takes place right here in the city of Hartford.
Foley is the fourth annual Ogden Poet to be chosen as part of the Ogden poet recipients. Every year, the prize is awarded to a Trinity alumnus/na who is a published poet (including journals, books and other mediums). Family, friends, colleagues and former students of the Late Hugh Ogden established the endowment. The Ogden Poetry presentation is apart of Trinity’s Smith Reading Series. Annually, the college hosts between eight and 10 readings by nationally acclaimed writers and poets.
To learn more about Hugh Ogden and his literary career please visit his website at www.hughogden.com.