VOICES Series debuts McKenzie Bonar’s “A Daughter’s Poems” with special guest poet Scott Silsbe

McKenzie Bonar and Scott SilsbeVOICES, Pitt-Greensburg’s literary series, will unite acclaimed poet Scott Silsbe and Pitt-Greensburg senior McKenzie Bonar to celebrate the release of Bonar’s debut poetry collection, “A Daughter’s Poems,” Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. in McKenna Hall 116. The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Bonar’s collection—a capstone project she completed as part of her Creative & Professional Writing major at Pitt-Greensburg—transports readers into the beauty and destruction that come with the transition from girlhood to womanhood, from childhood to the borders of adulthood. This collection of intimate, often narrative poems travels the rough roads of bad jobs, complicated families, dead friends, heartbreak, and the longing for the simple and elusive innocence of girlhood.

"McKenzie Bonar started writing good poems in the first class I had her in,” said Dave Newman, assistant professor of English/Creative and Professional Writing, and one of Bonar’s mentors. “Her good poems got better until they were great poems, then she got published in a national magazine, then she got invited to read in Pittsburgh, and she blew the audience away. She'll publish a full-length book soon, and we'll all be like 'I knew her! She was a student here!' and she'll be on a red carpet somewhere, accepting an award. Her talent is unlimited. Her ceiling is the top of the sky." 

As Newman mentioned, poems in Ms. Bonar’s collection have been published in the international literary magazine “Trailer Park Quarterly.”  Ms. Bonar was invited to read in the Pittsburgh Bantha Tea House Odd Month Series alongside poet Rich Gegick and others, and her poems have been featured in “Sound Bytes,” the multi-media literary column at “The Insider,” Pitt-Greensburg’s student news source.

All students in Pitt-Greensburg’s Creative and Professional Writing program complete chapbook-length manuscripts in their chosen genres as part of their graduation requirements. Students write, design, edit, and publish their own books—an experience that gives them real-world practice and welcomes them into their professional writing lives.

“It’s so wonderful to see the excitement and joy our students experience when they finally get to hold the work they’ve created,” said Lori Jakiela, professor of English and director of the Creative and Professional Writing program.  “It’s such a unique and tangible and beautiful expression of everything they’ve worked toward for years. The publication of our students’ capstone chapbooks is the centerpiece of our program and something we celebrate like crazy. McKenzie’s chapbook is especially exciting. It’s beautiful, heart-filled work.”

Joining in the celebration of Bonar’s debut is award-winning poet Scott Silsbe—author of four poetry collections, including most recently “Meet Me Where We Survive” (Kung Fu Treachery Press, 2023).

Mr. Silsbe was born in Detroit and grew up down the river from there. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His other books include “Unattended Fire” (2012), “The River Underneath the City” (2013), and “Muskrat Friday Dinner” (2017). Mr. Silsbe is a cornerstone of the Pittsburgh literary community. A champion of other Pittsburgh writers and poets, Mr. Silsbe organizes multiple reading series and literary events in the city and beyond. He works as a warehouse manager at Caliban Books, can be seen on the Pittsburgh indie rock scene with fellow poet Bob Pajich, and has been widely published in “Chiron Review,” “Nerve Cowboy,” “Free State Review,” “Lilliput Review,” “The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,” “LA Cultural Weekly,” and more.

“The combination of Scott Silsbe and McKenzie Bonar means we’ll have an amazing night of heart-filled, heart-filling poetry,” Jakiela said. “I can’t think of a better way to end our fall semester and launch the holiday season.”

The VOICES readings are sponsored by the Academic Village, the Office of Academic Affairs, and The Creative & Professional Writing Program. For more information about the series or about the Creative & Professional Writing Program at Pitt-Greensburg, please visit the campus website (https://greensburg.pitt.edu) or contact Prof. Newman at dpn15@pitt.edu or Prof. Jakiela at loj@pitt.edu.

Publication Date

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 11:15