Alumnus brings his poetry to The Cabin

Ken Szymanski, with former student Ian Jacoby, will be reading poetry at 8 p.m. tonight at The Cabin. Szymanski’s new book, “Blue Light Special,” is a collection of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

He describes the book as a capstone to a period in his life, he said.

“I’ve been going through a lot of changes in my life,” he said. “I finished my master’s last spring, which meant the end of college, and I got married.”

But it started with earning his masters degree in education. Szymanski was looking at his options when doing his culminating project and decided to create a portfolio of what he worked on.

“He wanted to develop curriculum that would provide students opportunities to publish their work,” said Sue Mc Intyre, department chair of curriculum and instruction. “He thought the best way to do that would be to model it.”

Szymanski described it as a portfolio of writing he’s done as a writer, but can use as a teacher. He teaches at South Middle School in Eau Claire, he said.

The graduate committee gave suggestions and feedback, and Szymanski made revisions. He wanted the book to come out in 2004, and it did in December.

“I had a pretty large collection of pieces from grad(uate) writing workshops, Volume One, the Leader-Telegram and NOTA,” he said.

He assembled about 50 pieces in a three-ring binder and began processing through to determine which could stand the test of time, Szymanski said.

“The music reviews were good at the time, but not two or three years later,” he said. “The ones included are good stand-alone pieces.”

Mc Intyre read all of Szymanski’s pieces before the book was published. “On Hands and Knees” is one of her favorites poems among all the poetry she’s ever read, she said.

“Ken Szymanski is an example of an everyday person who, through special talents, makes the world a special place,” she said.

Jacoby will open tonight’s show and possibly accompany Szymanski on some pieces, Jacoby said.

“Some pieces are poetry, and I’ll probably just be adding music, kind of like a ballad,” he said.

Syzmanski’s book will be sold with a 20 percent student discount at the reading, he said.

“The reading will be very accessible,” Szymanski said. “It won’t be boring: There should be some good laughs. It should have literary merit.”