Literary Society Event to focus on Poet Samuel Hazo, Janine Bayer Biography
By Madeline Riccardi, Editor-in-Chief
The LRU Literary Society will host its first event of the semester focusing on Samuel Hazo and his new biography.
On Feb. 25, Dr. Janine Bayer, Ph.D., will lead a discussion about her new literary biography “Before the Pen Runs Dry: A Literary Biography of Samuel Hazo.”
The Literary Society has scheduled the lecture, entitled, “Creating Genre: Biography in Poetry and Prose,” in the Ryan Room, with all welcome to attend. The Literary Society requires masks for the 7 p.m. event.
Bayer said that her biography focuses on Hazo’s early life, career, and family.
“It tells the story of his lineage, early life growing up in Pittsburgh, time in the Marine Corps and at the University of Notre Dame,” Bayer said.
Bayer continued, “His career as a professor at Duquesne University, founder/ director of the International Poetry Forum, and his life with wife, Mary Anne, and son, Sam,” are also important aspects of the biography.
Although most of the book focuses on Hazo and his life, the final two chapters of the book are more analytical, according to Bayer.
“They focus on some of his most common poetic themes,” the La Roche English Department Chair said, “as well as the development of his poetic technique over his 60 plus year writing career.”
As a close friend of Hazo, Bayer has developed a new style of writing for her biography with the poet.
“The book is written a style that Sam and I believe we invented because we couldn’t find any models for it,” she said.
“The book relies heavily on Hazo’s poems, which I’ve made central to the story of his life and career. It also draws heavily on hundreds of hours of personal interviews I conducted with Sam – as well as interviews with other scholars of his work and archival research I conducted at the University Notre Dame, where his archives are housed,” she continued.
She finished her discussion of the writing style and biography format by saying, “I have sprinkled the work with sufficient, but not heavy-handed, analysis of the poems I selected for the book.”
The Duquesne University graduate said that Hazo felt it was very important for the biography to be more of a story about him and his life rather than a traditional biography.
“It was important to Sam that the book be a ‘story’ of his life instead of a standard scholarly biography,” she said.
With the Literary Society Event quickly approaching, Bayer discussed her presentation and lecture plans.
“I plan to discuss my writing process: the challenges of modifying a standard genre into something different and new, the difficulties associated with writing a biography of someone who is still alive, telling the story honestly without sounding gratuitously flattering or offensive, and finding / developing my own author’s voice in the book amid all the other voices.
“This was not an easy book to write,” she said.
Bayer noted that writing the biography of someone who is currently living is a very difficult task.
“I hope people will come to the Literary Society event because I’m super jazzed to talk about the book,” Bayer concluded.
Bayer published her book, reviewed by Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations at Boston University, with the Franciscan University Press.
“Teacher, poet, writer, literary impresario, and above all devoted husband and father: Sam Hazo has lived a varied and consequential life,” Bacevich began his review. “In Janine Molinaro, he has found an ideal biographer. ‘Before the Pen Runs Dry’ is an imaginatively conceived and exquisitely written book.”
For more information about Dr. Janine Bayer, Ph.D.’s book, “Before the Pen Runs Dry: A Literary Biography of Samuel Hazo,” visit https://www.samhazopoet.com/.
To purchase your very own copy of “Before the Pen Runs Dry: A Literary Biography of Samuel Hazo,” visit https://www.cuapress.org/9781736656112/before-the-pen-runs-dry/.