Joshua Mehigan, the featured poet at Kean University’s Spring 2015 Author Series
By Vera Boateng
“The black cowboy hat with buffalo-nickel trim, the fine nose and mustache that sat under the wide brim.” This was a source of inspiration from an old fifties movie that inspired Josua Mehigan to write his poem, “Herd at the Men’s Mission.”
Mehigan was featured in Kean University’s Author Series event on Jan. 18. He is a Levinson Prize recipient and author of two poetry books, “The Optimist” and “Accepting the Disaster.” He expresses his unique and profound ideas about life and the intensity of mental breakdowns.
Mehigan is a native of Johnstown, a small town in upstate New York and works as a professor at the College of Staten Island. He says his poetry writing goes back to the age of 10 when he would write limericks.
By the age of 14, Mehigan was attempting to write more serious poems that were metrical and rhymed. At the event, the book he discussed was his most recent, “Accepting the Disaster.”
The book contained poems with simple narratives that make it easy for any reader to follow. The book also featured the poem, “Fire Safety” that was published in Poetry Magazine, a magazine geared towards information on poetry issues as well as featuring a new poet weekly.
Mehigan’s poems have also appeared in many periodicals such as The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Paris Review. In 2013, he received the Levinson Prize. In 2011 he received Poetry Magazine’s Editor’s Prize for best feature article of the year.
Mehigan was also awarded a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Some of his popular titles include, “Here”, “The Orange Bottle”, and “Herd at the Men’s Mission.”
Most of the poems in his poetry book, “Accepting the Disaster,” were written about personal experiences that Mehigan had.
“‘Herd at the Men’s Mission, refers to the Bowery Mission in Manhattan and a scene in the fifties movie, ‘On the Bowery’ that made me think,” said Mehigan. “It struck me, which doesn’t usually happen because writing poems takes me a long time to write. In the movie theatre I sat there and wrote half of it.”
Mehigan shows his talent and interest in one of his narrative poems, “The Orange Bottle”, which talks about a male who doesn’t want to take his medicine Clozapine. This is used for treating Schizophrenia, a severe brain disorder.
He displays the intensity of the disease in the male character and how it started to consume his life.
This event was sponsored by the Nathan Weiss Graduate College and headed by Jeffrey Beck, Dean of the Nathan Weiss Graduate College at Kean. Beck explained that he met Mehigan through Brooklyn Poets, a poetry-reading workshop in New York.
“I wanted Joshua to come to Kean because I thought about how I wanted to do a reading series as part of my classes that I teach at Kean, and have the students do research on living writers,” said Beck.
Mehigan also gives readings of his poems at other schools and the New York City Poetry Festivals. The next location that Mehigan hopes to present at is Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The next featured author in Kean’s Spring 2015 Author Series is John Keene, a poet and award-winning novelist. The event will take place on Tuesday Mar. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at East Campus (EC) 203.
To find more information about Mehigan and his poetry, visit http://www.joshuamehigan.net. The website features information about his books, poems, upcoming events and many of his publications.