Poetic Professors Read and Celebrate Latest Publications

English professors Rebecca Fremo and Phil Bryant gave a reading as part of the Bards in the Arb series last week.
Posted on February 24th, 2020 by

Despite frigid winds blowing outside the windows, the inside of Linnaeus Arboretum Melva Lind Interpretive Center was warm and full of excited people on Tuesday, February 18. The group of people was gathered to hear Gustavus Adolphus College poets and professors Rebecca Fremo and Phil Bryant read from their recently-released books of poetry.

Bryant, a longtime professor of English and African Studies, read a selection of works from his third and most recent book, The Promised Land (Nodin Press). The full-length poetry work highlights Bryant’s own experiences with diversity and justice in the world today. One especially meaningful poem was written for fellow professor and friend Paschal Kyoore, saying his smile is “as big and as warm as a midday / African sun.” 

Fremo was also celebrating a new book. Moving This Body (Main Street Rag Publishing) was released on November 19, 2019, and is her first book-length poetry publication. The work features emotional pieces about her experiences as a mother of three boys. Each piece possesses a soft, lyrical quality that makes the reader think about their own daily life with fresh, artistic lens.

“These agile, graceful poems dance, stride, and sashay their way into the reader’s consciousness and heart, always moving toward strange and wonderful revelations and discoveries found in the seemingly small, unimportant, daily exercises and rituals of our lives,” Bryant said of Fremo’s work.

For Fremo, the process of publishing her first book has been both extremely gratifying and a learning experience.

“It’s really gratifying to finally hold something like that in your hand when you are recognizing that some poems in there date back to 2006 and some poems that date back to the summer of 2018,” Fremo said.

As for her favorite poem in book, Fremo said they change but she has a soft spot for “Judging the Elementary School Science Fair,” which for her represents a proud mom moment she experienced with her first-born son.

I can’t judge the third grade
projects. Conflict of interest.
But I wink at you, as we
remember a January day
When you heaved baseballs
at the mini-trampoline, measuring
“cold-weather bounce-ability.”

Though she is humble about her work, Fremo enjoys the company of her colleagues and getting to read her work aloud.

“I never get over the thrill of standing next to someone like Phil Bryant or Joyce Sutphen or Matt Rasmussen. I feel like I’ve had these remarkable opportunities to read next to poets of such remarkable caliber,” Fremo said. “But I really love to read [my poems] because that’s when I think they come alive.”

The reading was attended by many students and friends of both professors, as well as current and retired professors.

Both The Promised Land and Moving This Body are available for purchase at the Gustavus Book Mark in the Jackson Campus Center.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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