English major and poet goes on tour

By Eunice Omega, CLAS ’10

Joe Welch, CLAS ‘11, is working on a novel about a dead medium who reaches out to the living. Although Welch hasn’t reached the literary masses yet, he’s well on his way after being nominated to read his poetry as part of the Connecticut Poetry Circuit.

The Connecticut Poetry Circuit was originally named The New England Poetry Circuit. It was formed in 1964 by The Academy of American Poets in order to provide colleges with readings by fine poets.

The Connecticut Student Poets are selected by the Circuit Selection Committee. Each college is invited to nominate one student poet, and four to five poets are chosen to tour.

Initially Welch, an English major with a concentration in creative writing and an art history minor, hadn’t heard of Connecticut Poetry Circuit. He did a poetry workshop with visiting writer Darcie Dennigan. Dennigan and English professor Ellen Litman decided to nominate Welch.

The student poets visit 10 Connecticut schools from universities to community colleges. The tour ends with a reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington in June. Welch has done nine readings so far.

“They’re very fun and interesting and all very different,” says Welch, who is from Somers, CT. “At UConn we read at the Co-op, but at other schools we’ve read at coffeehouses and even residential homes.”

Welch described all the student writers having different poetic styles and content.

“My writing style is a little supernatural,” Welch said. “I write about ghosts and I give voices to things that don’t have them, like a cigarette, the ground, or evolution. I have a synesthetic style where I work with mixing senses like taste and touch. My work can be described as very dark, often longing, and emotionally driven.”

Prior to joining the Connecticut Poetry Circuit, Welch got involved with and later became editor-in-chief of the Long River Review. He hosted Long River Live last year, which involved soliciting writers, performers, and artists to share their work, as well as reading some of his own. He also emceed for the last two Long River Review release parties.

“My experience with Long River Review has definitely taught me how to speak in front of people,” Welch said.

After graduation Welch hopes to travel to London, but his main goal is to work on his writing and get published. Graduate school is in his future too; Welch plans to obtain his master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing. Welch believes that being a part of the Connecticut Poetry Circuit helped propel him closer to achieving his dreams.

“The circuit really helped me understand myself and my poetry more,” Welch said. “It’s great to hear what people have to say afterwards. I love when people connect with me and are affected by what I read—when someone understands my work they understand me on a profoundly personal level.”

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