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A Feat of Poetry at BC

Bailey Spencer '14, BC's representative at the Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

Sharp among the sweet, she came from fairy-tale stock, trees older than the stars.

She knew the value of warm milk and soft consonants, words thick and knotty as her wool sweaters.

The above verses from the poem “Ferment and Grow Old” were written by Bailey Spencer ’14 to evoke the lasting memory of her great-grandmother, whose family was from the Black Forest region of Germany.

 “I’ve heard stories about my great-grandmother, making sauerkraut on her back porch,” said Spencer of the inspiration for the fantastical piece. “In this poem, I imagine a jar of the fermented cabbage sprouting and becoming a little piece of that mythological ‘ancestral land’ here, today.” 

“Ferment and Grow Old” will be among her original works highlighted when she represents Boston College in the 2014 Greater Boston Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival on April 22. This celebration of talented student poets will once again take place at BC, at 7:30 p.m. in the Murray Room of the Yawkey Center.

Spencer and the other student participants – all selected by their respective professors – will represent some two dozen Boston-area colleges and universities at the festival, which also features keynote remarks by Elizabeth “Betsy” Sholl, poet laureate of the state of Maine from 2006-2011.

“Students always enjoy seeing the great range of work presented, as well as the diversity of reading and performance styles,” said poet and festival organizer Suzanne Matson, BC English Department chair and professor. “They also value feeling themselves to be a part of an accomplished group of like-minded young poets. Writing is solo work, and poetry can feel even more isolated, so the sense of community created by the Intercollegiate Poetry Festival is a gift to them and to all of us.”

 Matson described Sholl – author of several collections of poetry, including the Four Lakes Poetry Prize-winning Otherwise Unseeable (2014), and winner of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and numerous other honors – as “a wonderfully wise and generous poetic voice — full of appreciative detail over the things of this world, but also attuned to social iniquities and life’s absurdities. She’s funny, warm, and down-to-earth.”

Spencer also drew praise from Matson: “Bailey is a skilled poet who has immersed herself in reading and writing poetry for years. I met her during her freshman year and could tell already that she had a focused and mature literary sensibility.  Since then we’ve worked together, and her sensitivity to language and mastery over its effects convince me that she’s the real thing.” 

A chapbook of student poetry, including Spencer’s tribute to her great-grandmother, will be published in conjunction with the festival.
“I am really honored to have been chosen to represent BC,” said Spencer, an English major from Michigan. “I’ve spent this year writing a collection of poems for my senior thesis, which explores the mythologies that develop in small towns and become woven into the fabric of place, and I’m excited for the opportunity to share some of my work and to hear what my peers at other universities are writing.”

A reception will follow the program. The poetry festival — which takes place during National Poetry Month and is sponsored by Poetry Days and Boston College Magazine – is open to the public, free of charge. For more information contact

–Rosanne Pellegrini

Where EagLeS SeRve

This Saturday, Boston College alumni from around the world will have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities while reconnecting with fellow Eagles, as part of BC’s ninth annual Day of Service.

Alumni chapters in 34 areas, both in the US and abroad, are participating in the 2014 Day of Service. The Alumni Association this year suggested a “one-cause” theme to help guide planning for service projects, and some chapters will gear their efforts around feeing the hungry. For example, Chicago alumni are working with MAC, a food packing/organizing group supported by Catholic Charities, to provide food for women, children and seniors, while the Fairfield, Ct., chapter will assist in collecting donated food items during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual food drive.

Among other service projects, the Panama chapter will donate air conditioning equipment to a children’s center and share breakfast and activities with some of the members; BC alumni in China will work on arts and crafts with children of migrant families in Beijing; Eagles in Dallas will paint, organize and spruce up a treatment center for girls in transition to foster care, group homes and family residences; and in South Carolina, alumni will build a reef to promote oyster restoration and create a habitat for various finfish species.

 “Service is a central part of the Boston College community,” said Associate Director of Alumni Chapters Jenniffer McNamara ’08.  “We are taught to be men and women for others from the first day of orientation, and the Day of Service is just one more opportunity for our alumni, students, parents and faculty to continue that tradition.”

For information about the Alumni Day of Service, see the Alumni Association website at

–Michael Maloney


The Law School will begin a new speaker series, “Conversations@BCLaw,” next week in which alumni political leaders are interviewed by BC Law professor Kent Greenfield. The series will be open to the public and live streamed, with online viewers invited to pose questions via social media with the hashtag #atbclaw.

The first event – which takes place this Tuesday at 4 p.m. in East Wing 120 – will feature 11-term US Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott ’73 (D-Va.). Scott has been active in supporting the right of all children with disabilities to obtain a free and appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. He also was instrumental in the House’s passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, and has been a leading critic against warrantless wiretapping and an opponent of efforts to permit employment discrimination in federally funded programs.

For more information or to watch the event online, see

–Melissa Beecher