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Professor to read from new poetry collection 'Blue Orange'

The new poetry collection by Robert Grunst, Ph.D., will be released on May 15.
The new poetry collection by Robert Grunst, Ph.D., will be released on May 15.
St. Catherine University

Robert Grunst, Ph.D., Professor of English at St. Kate’s, will read from his new poetry collection entitled “Blue Orange” at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, May 5, 2012, in the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery as part of May Fête.

Carrying the same name as the central poem in the collection, “Blue Orange” uses vivid description and personal memories to portray the world in a different light. The title poem describes an orange that is found in a fruit drawer after it has begun to change color and decay.

“What I’m trying to get at is how compelling our reactions are to aesthetic moments or beautiful things — how they are so tempered,” says Grunst. “Beauty is dangerous in as much as there’s a certain human tendency: You see something beautiful and you touch it and that spoils it.”

The poetry collection, which has been in the making for nearly a decade, also explores themes of mystery, curiosity and personal identity. A number of the poems were inspired by experiences Grunst had as a child in school, but a larger number still explore moments of intense curiosity and telling realizations.

“We go on these journeys just like ‘The Odyssey,’ looking for something, trying to find something, or trying to locate ourselves in the world,” says Grunst. “I was attempting to explore different random aspects of history that determine who we become.”

Grunst incorporates poems from a variety of locations across the globe into the work, ranging from Garden City, Michigan, and California, to Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. Each poem examines its subject up close, through careful imagery and attention to the details ingrained in the subject’s life. Whether the subject is Aunt Dorothy in “Dottie Bowling,” llamas trotting in “Ode for the Glaciers Above Us and a Can of Sardines,” or the passion fruit in “Cordillera Blanca Fault Zone Papaya,” the lines illustrate the scene while at the same time conveying a depth of meaning.

Grunst credits St. Catherine University with giving him the opportunity to write and compile the collection. He says he took inspiration from his experiences in foreign countries through courses on the Global Search for Justice, and he completed the two collections while he was on sabbatical from the University.

“Blue Orange,” which was published by The Ashland Poetry Press, is the second collection of poetry by Grunst to receive publication. His first collection of poems was entitled “The Smallest Bird in North America.” Grunst’s poetry has also appeared in American Literary Review, Cimarron Review, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Seneca Review, Tar River Poetry and other literary magazines.  

The reading is free and open to the public, and it will be held in the lecture hall at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, which is located in the Visual Arts Building on the St. Paul campus of St. Catherine University.

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April 30, 2012 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Arts, Faculty, Liberal Arts