Rollins Rings in 125 Years
125 Years of Rollins Poetry
By Laura J. Cole
“Rollins began with a poem.” So notes the poetic introduction to Rollins Book of Verse: 1885-2010, a new collection of poems compiled and edited by Carol Frost, Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Professor of English and director of Winter With the Writers, and Maurice O’Sullivan, Kenneth Curry Professor of Literature.
Showcasing the College’s rich literary tradition, Rollins Book of Verse weaves poems from alumni, faculty, staff, visitors, and friends into a lyrical tapestry that highlights Rollins’ position at the forefront of American poetry. The collection includes Emily Huntington Miller’s dedicatory poem to Winter Park’s future college (the poem referenced in the introduction), as well as selections from literary giants such as Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Billy Collins ’08H (Senior Distinguished Fellow of Rollins’ Winter Park Institute), Edna St. Vincent Millay, Nikki Giovanni, and Maya Angelou ’85H. It also offers sheet music to the well-known “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” by Fred Rogers ’51 ’74H, a short story by Anthony Perkins ’54 ’82H titled “Brooks Revisited,” and an invitation—in verse form—to a Rollins reunion by Rollins’ eighth president Hamilton Holt.
“Rollins Book of Verse is unique in American literary history,” O’Sullivan said. “No other college or university has anything quite like it. While most of these poems have been published, our idea was to bring them together in one place to reflect the depth and breadth of talent Rollins has experienced. Appearing together also allows these poems and poets to engage in a dialogue with one another across time and space.”
By bringing Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, U.S. Poet Laureates, and MacArthur Fellows to campus through the years, Rollins has fostered these kinds of dialogues, which enrich student writers and encourage and elevate the writing experience. Programs like Winter With the Writers “show our students that they are part of a community of writers,” O’Sullivan said—ensuring that the College that began with a poem continues to be a space where writing flourishes.
Rollins Book of Verse is available for purchase through the Rollins bookstore at 407-646-2133. All proceeds go to support and encourage creative writing at Rollins through the Winter With the Writers Endowment program. To learn more about Winter With the Writers, visit rollins.edu/winterwiththewriters.