Photo courtesy of Janna Strain
By Joey Indurante, staff reporter
Illinois Wesleyan University senior Janna Strain, who is double majoring in English Writing and religion, recently had a poem published in the online journal The Morning News. The poem is entitled “I’d Like to See You at Thanksgiving,” and it’s a compelling, modern, free-verse poem, lovingly dedicated to her brother.
At times the poem is raunchy and has numerous references to contemporary bands.
“I’ve had writers tell me that they avoid addressing popular culture because it dates their work. People sometimes write with the hope that a piece’s significance will be eternal and universal,” Strain said to The Morning News.
While she may understand the worthy goal of having a piece of writing that can stand the test of time, Strain’s poem was far more daring.
“Avoiding pop culture often limits a poem from reaching its full potential. People live in a transient world, and writers, of all people, should never fear addressing it in its immediacy,” Strain said. “Sometimes people forget that the greatest literary pieces are considered great because they engage with the times from which they were born.”
“Janna’s publication is a true accomplishment. Other poets published in the “Lunch Poems” feature of The Morning News include numerous accomplished, award-winning younger poets, such as D. A. Powell, Dora Malech, and Matthew Rohrer,” said associate professor of English Michael Thuene, Strain’s professor for English 301: Creative Writing Seminar. “In fact, Michael Robbins, one of the poets who inspired Janna’s project, also has a poem published in this venue. In her first foray into publication, Janna finds herself in estimable company.”
There is no doubt that this accomplishment for Strain marks a large step in her career as a writer, and a great accomplishment.
“Janna certainly took a risk, though a calculated, well thought-out one,” Theune said. “In this way, with such commitment, Janna created texts that, while certainly difficult, are electric, truly vibrant, supremely contemporary.”