'An exciting time to be a poet': Milford's poet laureate wants to inspire youth

Joan Kwon Glass is Milford's second Poet Laureate.

Joan Kwon Glass is Milford's second Poet Laureate.

Milford Library / Contributed photo

MILFORD — Although Joan Kwon Glass has been writing poetry since she was in kindergarten, the national spotlight that President Joe Biden’s inauguration shone on poets has made this an especially exciting time to be one.

“I think the presidential inauguration brought poetry to the forefront when Amanda Gorman was chosen to recite her poem ‘The Hill We Climb,’” said Glass, who teaches social studies in Darien.

“She was the first National Youth Poet Laureate to do so. I think bringing in a young person got people excited,” Glass said. “It is an exciting time to be a poet, and I want to run off that energy here in Milford.”

Glass was recently named Milford’s poet laureate by the city, the library and the Milford Arts Council. She was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of community members and literary experts. She said her focus during her four-year term would be working with younger writers.

“I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate opportunities for kids of all ages,” Glass said. “I love working with teenagers, working with younger kids. It would be wonderful to get them to write creatively or to learn how to share their writing and help them build confidence.”

Milford Library Director Christine Angeli said Glass had an accomplished track record.

“Joan is an accomplished writer whose poems have been published in numerous online and print journals, such as West Trestle, The Mantel and South Florida Poetry Journal,” Angeli said. “She is a featured poet on Poetry as it Ought to Be and her work has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.”

The City of Milford Poet Laureate program is an honorary, non-compensated position. It was started in 2016 to elevate poetry in the consciousness of Milford residents and to help celebrate the literary arts. The Poet Laureate acts as an advocate for poetry, literature and the arts through public readings and participation in civic events.

Glass credits Adrienne Rich and Walt Whitman for helping her put pen to paper.

“Poetry is the world I operate in. It is what inspires me and where I feel most at home in my writing,” she said. “I have a stack of books on my nightstand with works by Ellen Bass, Margaret Atwood and Eugenia Leigh, who is my favorite living poet, among them. Leigh is a Korean poet and my mother is Korean.”

Glass’s Korean roots run deep.

“Kwon was my grandmother’s maiden name and we were very close,” Glass said. “I lived in Korea during middle school and it is a large part of my life experience.”

Glass, who is active in the Milford Arts Council and Historical Society, will read original poetic works at civic functions. She believes poetry is cathartic.

“I’ve read a lot about memory, about family and also how to process loss in my life, especially the past few years,” Glass said.

“Honestly I don’t know what I would have done without poetry to read and write,” she said. “I told a friend, I don’t know how non-writers process difficult things that happen to them. I don’t know how people do it.”

Glass said writing saves her from internalizing grief, and helps her soldier on when she’s feeling down.

“It helps to continue on in life being the things that are important to me: a good teacher, mother, and friend,” she said.

When she is writing, Glass said she has a comfortable chair in her dining room that is her designated writing area. But with three children, an anxious dachshund and a parrot, privacy is a luxury.

“There is a staircase that is right by the chair,” she said. “I’ll look up and all of the kids are perched on the stairs looking at me.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354