Missy-Marie Montgomery takes a seat in her office in Springfield College’s Weiser Hall.
She had just lost and found her keys and realized the clock on her wall was stuck at 6:30. Nonetheless, she laughs it off and offers me a cup of tea.
In a sense, these few moments let us in on the type of person Montgomery is.
She is a woman who wears all black, but makes up for the lack of color with her bright smile.
She is a writer who feels most at ease when she can avoid silly questions and “blend into the landscape” of a coffee shop.
She is a poet whose main goal is to make sure her readers come away with more than they came with.
“I believe that one of our jobs on this planet is to make art with our lives, to add it to the great collective,” Montgomery said. “Though I deeply admire and draw on the worlds of art and music, there has always been for me an acute sense that my own way of adding to the conversation is through writing.”
Montgomery has been adding to the conversation through writing for quite some time. She has been molding future writers as a professor of English and humanities at Springfield College since 1999. She compares teaching to writing in the sense that all you can truly plan out is showing up.
“You don’t even know how it’s going to happen. One day it’s just a good class for no reason. You’re not especially more prepared, it’s just a better lesson. I think writing is like that.”
Professor by day and published author by night, Montgomery has published poetry, essays and short stories in more than 20 literary magazines, such as Poetry International, Lyric Poetry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Poet Lore.
It appears as though a woman who has accomplished so much would rise with the sun in order to beat the early birds. On the contrary, Montgomery says she would not describe herself as a morning person.
“I do not get up at 4:00 a.m. to write. In fact, I am the opposite. I often write until the very wee hours, sometimes until those very early birds start up. For me, having order, some beauty, and the world asleep lets me enter ‘the zone’,” Montgomery said. “I need the dirt of the day on me to be able to write.”
The wee hours of the night and the dirt of the day have been adding up. Montgomery has recently released her book, Half-Life of Passion, which is a collection of poetry she has written over time, the oldest of the poems extending back about 20 years.
Since its release in April, Half-Life of Passion has been very well received. Carol Potter, author of Some Slow Bees says that the book is “a testament to the transformative project of poetry.” Springfield College’s own Margaret Lloyd, professor of English, calls the collection “fierce in the face of decay and lessening.”
Half-Life of Passion is a compilation of poems from a period in Montgomery’s life which cover themes of love, death, grief, loss and recovery in a way that makes the reader feel as if they were going through the motions along with the poet.
Montgomery has a way of channeling what is contained in her mind and heart in ways that are not only easy to be enveloped by but also easy to relate to.
“I just want people to read something and think: You nailed it. I just want to make people feel something,” Montgomery said.
On November 18 at 7:30 p.m., Montgomery and Henry Lyman, whose collection The Land Has Its Say which was also released in April of this year, will be coming together to read poetry in the Flynn Campus Union. The event commemorates the publication of each author’s first book.
Margaret Lloyd has been in a poetry workshop with Montgomery and Lyman for many years. The workshop, widely known as Group 18, has been meeting in Northampton, Mass. since 1985.
“I have come to know Missy’s and Henry’s poems intimately,” Lloyd said. “Missy’s poems grapple with the largest subjects. She is not afraid to say the things that are deeply her own.”
“When I read a poem by Henry Lyman, I find myself exploring the smallest blade of grass and the greatest of life’s mysteries. His poems are forged, wrought, and wrestled with until what emerges is a perfect, quiet surface over immeasurable depths.”
Whether it be small blades of grass or the largest subjects, poetry has the power to get your wheels turning and your heart pumping. Montgomery says that it is a poet’s job to add to the great collective.
We, as the audience, have the easy job. The only thing that is left for us to do is listen and allow the poetry to make you feel.