Wesleyan University Press Director and Editor-in-Chief Suzanna Tamminen was recently named among the Huffington Post’s “Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry.” In past years, the list has included many notable individuals such as Maya Angelou, James Franco, and Barack Obama. This year’s list was compiled by Series Co-Editor Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post, along with other staff members.
In his Huffington Post blog post titled “The Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry (2013),” Abramson noted that similar lists can often lack objectivity.
“Too many such lists, such as the widely- and justly-panned one recently published by Flavorwire, exhibit obvious age, race, ethnicity, and (particularly) geographic biases,” Abramson wrote. “…More often than not, then, both lists of top poets and angry responses to such lists have the same net effect: To define poetry as a series of geographic sub-units or highly-circumscribed sub-communities, all of which are largely self-sufficient and self-contained and therefore do little to directly promote American poetry as a national cultural phenomenon.”
In the blog post, Abramson explained the reasoning behind the selected names.
“The emphasis here is on the quality, scope, and duration of an individual or group’s advocacy for American poetry and American poetry-related discourse,” Abramson wrote.
Tamminen is one such individual and has been an advocate of the written word for decades. Her involvement with publishing and press began when she was a student intern in the late 1980s.
“We had two or three typewriters and one computer,” Tamminen wrote in an email to The Argus. “I loved working with books and being involved in the whole process, and I still love it.”
Tamminen demonstrates her poetry advocacy through her role at the Wesleyan University Press, which has been publishing poetry, among other genres, since its institution.
“We were established in 1957 and one of our missions from the beginning has been to foster poetry,” Tamminen wrote. “For over 50 years, we have published an internationally renowned poetry series. Currently, we publish [between six and seven] books of poetry each year.”
This is not the first recognition that Tammimen has received for her work. In 2008, the Congress on Research in Dance presented her with an Outstanding Service in Dance Research Award.
Jesalyn Ortiz ’16, a prospective English and dance major, was impressed when she heard of Tamminen’s achievement.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we have someone who was recognized for her poetry advocacy and dance research back in 2008,” Ortiz said. “It really shows how people in Wesleyan can be involved with a wide range of subjects.”
Tamminen said that she was surprised and excited to hear about her placement on the list. She wasn’t aware of the recognition until her publicist informed her.
“It is always nice to be recognized for doing something that you care about,” Tamminen wrote. “It gets me recognized at ball games, church coffee hours, and in obscure student newspapers. Seriously, I’m very pleased that the press’ excellent work in poetry was given this honor.”