Alumni Named Among '10 Poets Who Will Change the World' by Poets & Writers

December 14, 2017

Two alumni are featured in Poets & Writers'  “10 Poets Who Will Change the World,” which highlights writers for their range, breadth and depth of storytelling and technique.


Emily Skillings '17 was featured for her collection, Fort Not, and William Brewer '14 was selected for his collection, I Know Your Kind. Both are debut books of poetry published this year.


The collections chosen for the prestigious magazine’s 13th annual roundup of debut poets “offer a glimpse of the wide range of contemporary poetry.”


Skillings’ book “reveals the tendencies of our culture and society through the trappings of modern life,” according to the magazine, while Brewer’s collection “clears a path for understanding others.” Skillings, who is currently working on a book-length poem sequence called “Mother of Pearl,” said she found inspiration while at Columbia, and counts among her influences teachers such as Timothy Donnelly and Dorothea Lasky.


“The workshops and seminars I attended at Columbia were also instrumental,” she told the magazine. Skillings said she wrote most of her book while she was working towards her MFA. “This book is a collection of mostly discrete poems that I wrote in graduate school (a handful were written in the time before and after),” she said.


Brewer, who is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and was featured of PBS, said his book was a response to the all-consuming nature of the opioid crisis in West Virginia. “In the broadest sense, I saw the opiate epidemic start to swallow up my home state,” he said. “Eventually it made its way into my life in specific ways, including a day when someone came to me and my partner and told us they had developed a heroin addiction.”


All the collections listed, according to the magazine, “do what poetry does best: inhabit the many possibilities of language and form as well as attend to, as Seamus Heaney put it, ‘the lift and frolic of the words in themselves.’”