Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. In the words of President Sublett, “Only people make a difference in an organization and only people are important in our lives.”
This month Dr. Linwood Rumney is recognized. Dr. Rumney is winner of the 17th Annual Gival Press Poetry Award for Abandoned Earth. His poems and nonfiction essays have appeared in many publications including the North American Review and Crab Orchard Review. His translations of Aloysius Bertrand, an early practitioner of the modern prose poem in French, have appeared in Arts & Letters and Hayden’s Ferry Review. His fellowships include the American Antiquarian Society, The Writers’ Room of Boston, and the St. Botolph Club, as well as a residency from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. He recently completed his Ph.D. as a Charles Phelps Taft Dissertation Fellow at UC. Dr. Rumney played a prominent role in the founding of Union’s new Live Reading Series.
Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?
For me, the most exciting part of being part of higher education is the opportunities for growth it provides. Students, of course, get to explore a wide range of material and, if things are going as they should, are being challenged to think in new ways and to investigate their assumptions. But, I think those opportunities are also there for teachers. At the very least, I learn a lot from students, and they always help me refine my thinking about subjects I think I understand well.
Q. What attracted you to become a part of the Union family?
Working at Union appealed to me because of its model of access and because of the diversity of its undergraduate population. In the first year of working here, I’ve had students who are 19-years old and others who are 70-years young. Union’s undergraduate student body is truly diverse. It’s a real privilege to see people who could probably never physically cross paths interact and to be part of that community.
Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?
I would probably be some kind of physicist, most likely an astronomer. I almost took enough courses in physics as an undergrad to declare that as my minor, and I am even listed as a contributing author on a research paper on laser spectroscopy because of work I did as a summer intern in a lab my freshman year of college. I almost wept when it was recently announced that Cassini, the spacecraft that has brought us so many stunning pictures of Saturn and its moons, is running out of fuel and will soon plunge into the planet’s atmosphere.
Q. What surprises people about you?
I think people are usually surprised by my willingness to try out a wide variety of new things and how obsessive I can become. About four years ago I started translating a 19th-century French poet even though I didn’t have much of a background in French. I’ve published many of these translations in journals and presented at a few conferences about translation since. About three years ago I started strength training and now regularly lift weights three or four days a week. Last month I started learning about HTML because it seems as though even a basic understanding of coding could be very helpful developing course content at Union.
Q. What is your favorite book, and why?
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is easily my all-time favorite book. I have read it many times since I was first introduced to it in high school, but reading it is always a joyful experience for me because I always discover and rediscover the nuances of the wisdom it contains. The first poetry I read out loud to my son after he was born, when his mother was asleep of course, came from Leaves of Grass. The work provides a lot of very important messages about celebrating diversity and pluralism and embracing what some might call radical empathy.