Sophie Kerr Series celebrates retirement of Dr. Mooney

By Emma Russell

Student Life Editor

On Tuesday Nov. 10 the Sophie Kerr Series presented “The Writer’s Life and Beyond, Robert Mooney in Conversation with Philip Brady and Tim Seibles.”

The talk was to celebrate Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Dr. Robert Mooney’s retirement. 

Professor and Chair of English, Director of the Sophie Kerr Endowment, and Director of Writing, Dr. Sean Meehan introduced both Dr. Brady and Seibles.

Dr. Brady is a poet, essayist, editor, publisher, a professor of English at Youngstown State University, and teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Wilkes University.

Tim Seibles is a poet and a former professor of English at Old Dominion University.

“I’d like to tip my hat to Robert Mooney AKA the moon man as he makes his way into the world of retirement, which is not a retirement at all really, and it’s certainly not restful, at least if you’re if you’re writing which he is and I’m still trying to do, but it does kind of open up some space in your day so that you can maybe sit and simmer, you know with the words longer and read all you want and none of it has to do with what you’re teaching,” Seibles said before his reading.

Seibles read a variety of poems including “This Way Blues Villanelle,” “Not Nearly Enough” which he dedicated to the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo, “Game Day,” a poem he wrote for the former NFL player Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality, and “Because the Weather Never for Tom Lucks.”

Dr. Brady read a passage from his memoir “To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigrations & the Afterlife.”

“It’s nice to have friendly colleagues, it’s a blessing when our colleagues become our friends especially colleagues as generous an accomplished as Dr. Robert Mooney. I reflect on all of my years at Washington College in the ways I found myself tossed around in this wild storm we call academia. Bob has been a steadfast friend, with coffee and cookies at the ready helping me stay grounded and quoting Bernie Mac to remind me that I do have courage and I am fearless even when sometimes I am not,” Associate Professor of English and American Studies Dr. Alisha Knight said in her introduction of Dr. Mooney.

“Bob arrived at Washington College in 1997, 23 years ago, to direct the Rose O’Neill Literary House and to breathe life into the Creative Writing Program. As a teacher he established the Creative Writing minor and contributed more than a dozen courses to our curriculum,” Dr. Knight said.

A heartfelt video was then shared, featuring Dr.Mooney’s friends and colleagues congratulating him on his retirement and reminiscing on their memories of him.

Students were also quick to share their love of Dr. Mooney, using the Zoom chat.

“Your writing and your wisdom is a gift to the world Dr.Mooney, thank you for sharing yourself with us,” senior Annalie Buscarino said.

“Everybody that you saw on that wonderful video, they are my brothers and sisters in this life and so many of you are as well, and I feel so fortunate to be in this nation as McCann calls it… this is where we live, it’s who we are. The community that the writing life affords for us if we’re willing to give and if we’re generous enough to take the generosity of these gifted people, I just feel blessed and I want to thank you all” Dr. Mooney said before starting his own reading. 

Dr. Mooney read a prose poem titled “River” about the Susquehanna river from his book “Swamp Root” and concluded with a piece from his book titled “Father of the Man.”

For more information about next semester’s Sophie Kerr Series, visit the Events section on the Literary House’s page of the WC website. 

Featured Photo caption: Dr. Robert Mooney reading his poem “River,” in his last Sophie Kerr event as a Professor at Washington College. Photo by Izze Rios.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *