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McCarthy to read as part of Writers@Monmouth series

MONMOUTH, Ill. – When you ask John McCarthy why he writes poems, he’s quick to point to the landscape that has shaped him.

In McCarthy’s words, he writes “to showcase and illuminate the diverse experiences of Midwestern life that are hiding among its prairies, fields and cities, as well as venerate its often underappreciated beauty.”

Monmouth College students and community members will have a chance to hear from McCarthy at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Mellinger Teaching Learning Center when he reads from his new collection of poetry, Scared Violent like Horses.

His second collection, McCarthy’s latest volume was chosen by notable writer Victoria Chang as the winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, sponsored by literary publishing leader Milkweed Books.

The poems in this new collection, along with McCarthy’s earlier Ghost County, challenge the notion of “anything outside of Chicago as agricultural flyover country.” Now a Chicago resident himself, McCarthy wants to complicate and reconsider this often oversimplified region.

“It is the expansiveness of the Midwest – Illinois, specifically,” he said, “which has allowed me to explore the deep themes of trauma, grief and loss, as well the intersections of race and class.”

In addition to his afternoon reading, McCarthy will meet with students studying contemporary American poetry and members of a Reflections class on masculinity, as well as interact with environmental studies students.

Associate Professor of English David Wright will host the visiting writer.

“I’m excited, again, to have a poet of John’s caliber here to engage with our student writers and readers,” said Wright. “Already, the upper division poetry students have been eagerly reading his work and developing questions to ask him during our class session.”

Wright pointed out the value of having working writers on campus: “Literature is a living thing, and there’s no better way to understand that than to have writers shaped by this very place who are making challenging, meaningful art from their experience. “

McCarthy will have copies of his work for sale at the reading. For more information about the poet himself, visit For information about Writers@Monmouth visit, contact Wright at